The floodwaters may be slowly receding in Srinagar but that doesn’t bring much relief to state authorities who are bracing for what is most likely to come next: the spread of water-borne diseases.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah admitted as much when he said that the likely spread of diseases was the main source of worry for him after the water recedes. “Water levels are receding faster than I expected.”
Stagnant water, the paucity of clean drinking water and people living in close quarters in ill-equipped relief camps is a recipe for a disease disaster. “We are preparing ourselves for diarrhoea and measles which is common when people live in clusters,” said Dr Salim Rehman, director, health services of the state’s health department.
Rehman added that he and his colleagues were not apprehensive of the possible outbreak of dengue and malaria as mosquitoes do not survive in the weather conditions of the Kashmir Valley.
Since the provision of clean drinking water is essential to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases, the health department has been asked to supply chlorinated water in tankers at all relief camps. The Central government on Wednesday also flew in supplies of chlorine tablets to make drinking water potable at relief camps as the supply of packaged water is unlikely to suffice.
The health department has set up medical centres at relief camps to treat patients symptomatically.
Dr Rehman was concerned that the lack of communication facilities was hampering the health department’s attempts to contact flood-affected people. “We had requested Radio Kashmir to broadcast details about our control room in Srinagar but its network too was not working. We will be able to reach out to people and relief camps only when mobile networks are restored.”