Islamabad  - National Institute of Health (NIH) in a seasonal awareness alert has warned against spread of water and food borne diseases causing acute watery diarrhoea, cholera and gastroenteritis, enteric fever and acute viral hepatitis. 

In an advisory issued yesterday, the NIH stated that Pakistan Meteorological Department had issued seasonal forecast for monsoon rainfall in different parts of the country during July-September 2016. 

Keeping in view the previous disease trends during rainy and monsoon seasons and risk of floods, the advisory is being circulated for preparedness and strengthening timely preventive measures to minimise the occurrence of food and waterborne disease outbreaks. Hot, humid weather and rain spell make the conditions favourable for the multiplication and transmission of microorganisms responsible for water and food-borne diseases outbreaks. Natural water reservoirs get contaminated due to mixing of rainy and sewage water. The climatic conditions also become extremely conducive for growth and transmission of the microorganisms during summer and monsoon season. 

The ignorance about good sanitary and hygienic practices further complicates the conditions that may lead to Acute Watery Diarrhoea Cholera and Gastroenteritis, enteric fever and acute viral hepatitis (A&E) outbreaks which not only leads to an increased level of morbidity and mortality and also creates resources burden. Rainy areas and poor and congested localities are at greater risk of having epidemics of water and food borne infectious diseases. Water pipes supplying clean treated water are usually old, rusted and damaged while sewage pipes and open sewage lanes running side by side sometimes get contaminated. 

The water borne diseases attributed to the consumption of the unsafe water and non-observance of proper sanitation and preventive measures may pose a serious challenge for the health and water and sanitation authorities. Such epidemics and outbreaks could however be prevented through following practices and measures: 

Careful watch on the water supply systems, repair of damaged water pipes, sewerage lines and systems without delay. Regular monitoring of hotels, restaurants and food points, ice factories, street vendors and water reservoirs. Other measures include building up of hospital capacity for management of patients, having rapid response arrangements in place and gearing up the preventive measures.  

Meanwhile, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has urged the citizens to adopt precautionary measures owing to current monsoon season. 

The authority has issued safety measures stating that people must keep themselves away from electric poles, signboards and trees in rain and storm. It advised to avoid throwing garbage in sewerage lines and nullahs as it causes blocked that leads to inundation of the area. It said to evacuate the abandoned and mud houses and also avoid living in under construction buildings. It also called to maintain the drainage system of roof tops and to clean the sewerage lines. The PDMA instructed the residents of low-laying areas to move their important households from basements to upper floors or safer places. It also advised the masses to keep themselves protected from viral diseases which usually breakout in such season. “Also, ensure the animals’ vaccination in order to avoid the epidemics must store their food in dry places and do not rope animals with electric poles”, it added.  

Citizens were also asked to avoid taking baths in rivers and canals. 

They asked people not to touch bare wires, avoid usage of electrical home appliances with faulty, bare and cracked electrical wires. The PDMA suggested citizens to contact deputy commissioner office (DCO), transportation management office (TMO), Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) or Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) helpline number 1129 in the case of any emergency.