It seems as though another disease is viciously taking over Pakistan as many tested positive for having contracted cholera in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. The primary cause is expected to be contaminated water that the people are forced to drink out of due to the severe water shortage in the country, especially in far-flung areas. What is truly unfortunate is that this is not a difficult disease to prevent and only requires some diligent infrastructural and developmental planning; something that feels like is beyond our capabilities as news of a two-year-old boy succumbing to the virus caused immense outcry against the standard of hygiene prevalent across the country.
According to news reports, an outbreak was located in Pir Koh, in the remote region of Dera Bugti in Balochistan. Here, at least four people died, including a toddler, not only due to the severity of the virus but because of a lack of quality medical attention. The concern is also prevalent in other provinces like Sindh where Karachi has reported over 129 lab-confirmed cases with authorities adding that thousands of diarrhea—a major symptom of the cholera—cases have been treated. Punjab is experiencing a similar outbreak as several cases of the virus were reported but authorities have not made an official statement. All in all, this is evidence of the fact that the entire country is vulnerable to the water-borne life-threatening disease.
What remains vital is access to safe-drinking water is provided to all across the country. Water scarcity forces those who cannot afford filtered or mineral water to resort to contaminated water for fulfilling their daily intake requirements. Plus, the lack of facilities to convert this very scarce water resource into a supply that is treated to be safe for use and consumption is an extremely worrying problem. All it will take is a little bit of investment and a sense of duty to bring about a change that could save countless lives and in fact, improve their quality as well.
Maintaining hygiene standards is one of the primary duties of the government and currently, we are failing. There is an immediate need for state action on health and food quality in order to protect the country from another medical emergency. The sooner we act, the better it will be.