Health

‘South Asia faces risk of deadly disease outbreaks due to floods’

New Delhi, Aug 6 (efe-epa).– South Asia faces a danger of more deadly disease outbreaks due to monsoon floods when health resources have been stretched to breaking point by the coronavirus that has affected over 2.2 million people in the region, a humanitarian group said on Thursday.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in a statement said floods have affected almost 17.5 million people in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Citing official figures, it said half of Bangladesh’s districts were underwater, leaving nearly one million families stranded and cut off in their villages.

Flooding and landslides in Nepal have left almost 200 people dead or missing.

In India, floods have affected almost 12 million people, mainly in the states of Assam and Bihar.

“This is one of the biggest monsoon floods we have faced in many years and the worst may be yet to come,” said Feroz Salah Uddin, secretary-general, Bangladesh Red Crescent.

“We face growing risks of malaria, dengue, diarrhea as well as the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.”

Monsoon floods make South Asia vulnerable to disease outbreaks such as dengue, malaria, leptospirosis, and cholera.

In 2019, Bangladesh experienced its deadliest outbreak of dengue with more than 101,000 cases and almost 180 deaths.

India reported 136,000 people infected with the disease.

The humanitarian group said Covid-19 restrictions had hampered efforts to destroy mosquito-breeding sites and raise awareness on how to prevent the spread of dengue and malaria.

“Millions of people are gathered in confined spaces or sleeping in temporary shelters with limited access to food, safe water, and protection from mosquitoes,” said Abhishek Rimal, Health Coordinator, Asia Pacific, International (IFRC).

Rimal said it created a perfect storm for the spread of mosquito and water-borne diseases.

The IFRC said in India, the majority of limited hospital beds, doctors, and health resources have been redirected to focus on Covid-19 response as the country deals with over 50,000 cases recorded a day.

“South Asia now has more than 2.2 million cases of Covid-19 cases with fears that the total number of infections is much higher,” it said.

Rimal expressed concern that dengue and malaria diseased patients might not get medical attention since the critical focus had been diverted to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

“We are seeing evidence that people are reluctant to go to health facilities because they fear catching Covid-19 and getting sicker,” Rimal said. EFE-EPA

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