Amid fears of an epidemic breaking out due to floods in Jammu and Kashmir, the state government is gearing up to contain the damage and wants the Centre to speedily send medicines as well as at least 300 paramedic staff.
The department of health services is making arrangements on a war-footing, issuing advisories, deploying doctors and paramedics across the Valley besides dispatching drugs and medicines.
The outbreak of epidemic is feared because of filth that has accumulated across the Valley besides the death of animals and their carcasses floating around in the flood waters. "We are sensitising people about do's and don'ts," Saleem-ur Rehman, Director, Health Services, told PTI here while pointing to the apprehension about an epidemic breaking out.
He said doctors and paramedic staff are being rushed across the Valley to sensitise people as well as take precautionary measures. "Our doctors and paramedics are hard pressed...We need a lot of people. We are drawing doctors and paramedic staff from places which were not affected by the floods," he said. Rehman said the Central government has been "generous" and has sent 30 doctors who have been deployed in various districts of Kashmir. He wants at least 300 paramedic staff from the Centre, saying it would be of great help. Drugs and medicines are coming into Kashmir in good flow but the Centre should be little more generous in speedily sending more of such supplies, he said.
He said departments allied with health issues like Public Health Engineering (PHE) and municipalities need to get active immediately to prevent an epidemic. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said yesterday that Kashmir has a history that lives are not lost in floods but in the aftermath of floods. "Our focus is on provision of medicines and water-purifying medicines like chlorine and lakhs of chlorine tablets have been distributed. We have asked municipalities to activate the sanitation system. Our primary concern is rescue and provision of food, prevention of diseases and epidemics is our priority," he had said.
Talking about the advisories being issued, Rehman, himself a doctor, said people need to use only boiled water and not use vegetables which have been even touched by flood water. About the steps being taken by his department, the Director said optimal use is being made of hospitals and camps are being set up to sensitise people and undertake chlorination of water. Vaccination is also being undertaken for measles, particularly of children aged 6 months to five years, even if they have been vaccinated earlier. Flood triggered by heavy rain in Jammu and Kashmir have claimed around 200 lives so far and left thousands homeless. It has also caused extensive damage to road, rail and telecommunication infrastructure in the state.