Diseases threaten Basra

With the onset of summer and severe shortage of potable water in the region, Basra in southern Iraq is in the grip of water-borne diseases -- cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.


    Water shortage is proving
    to be a major problem 

    Three children died in a Basra hospital recently after it  reported at least 66 cases of cholera.


    A spokesperson of the World Health Organisation (WHO) told Aljazeera that poor security  prevented Iraqi doctors from moving about freely to treat patients.


    Our correspondent said the aftermath of the war made it difficult for hospitals to cope with the spread of diseases.


    Hospitals and medical  laboratories were indiscriminately looted by mobs after the United States-led forces deposed the  government of Saddam Hussein.


    Basra maternity and paediatric hospital physician Dr. Jassim al-Khaldi said a joint effort by doctors and the administration was necessary to stem diseases. 


    All water must be purified, water tanks must be cleaned and samples taken before they are used, he said, adding that the issue was very critical.


    No monitoring mechanism


    A Basra resident Mohammed said people swam in polluted waters in lakes and tanks as there was shortage of water at home.


    The lake and tank water was not only used for taking a bath but also for washing and drinking, he said.


    The WHO spokesperson pointed out that last year the cases of cholera were 39 in number compared to the 66 reported this year.


    In the case of children, diarrhoea was proving to be fatal, she said.  Unfortunately, there was no monitoring mechanism now. On an average, the WHO was receiving reports of 20 cases every day, she said. 


    People were unable to do simple things like boiling water before giving it to children for drinking. The situation is in danger of going out of control, the spokesperson said.



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