Sunday, June 9, 2013

Climate change may be making children sick in Pakistan

M. Wagar Bhatti in the News (Pakistan): Cases of vector-borne diseases have increased rapidly in the country this year, particularly in Sindh, and experts have linked this phenomenon to the irregular rain patterns “This year, the rise in vector-borne diseases including diarrhoea, cholera, gastroenteritis, typhoid, and hepatitis is due to environmental factors and the effects of climate change,” says Dr Iqbal Memon, renowned paediatrician and president of the Pakistan Paediatric Association.

Monsoon season in Pakistan normally starts in the middle of July and continues till mid-September and in the monsoon season, the consumption of contaminated water from freshwater sources caused outbreaks of water-borne diseases, especially in the rural areas of Sindh.

“But we are seeing a rise in the cases if diarrhoea, cholera, gastroenteritis and typhoid cases, which shows that safe drinking water is unavailable in our freshwater sources, which was not the case in the past,” explains Dr Memon. He adds that thousands of children have been diagnosed with vector-borne diseases in Sindh during the last couple of months.

A few decades back, Dr Memon recalls, the Indus River used to flow at full strength prior to the monsoon season in the country and freshwater was abundantly available to local communities during all seasons.

“Now there is no water in the Indus River. Ponds and riverines in Sindh have become contaminated, but people have no other option but to use that water for drinking and cooking. This lack of freshwater is purely due to environmental reasons.”...

The Indus River in Hyderabad, shot by Farhan, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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