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Caution! Public Health At Risk Amid Delhi Floods; Stay Safe From These Diseases

Delhi floods can have medium- and long-term health impacts, including water- and vector-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid, or malaria

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Caution! Public Health At Risk Amid Delhi Floods; Stay Safe From These Diseases
Sanitation has become a major concern for people in the flood-affected areas of Delhi

New Delhi: “After flooding, there is a fear of the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria rising. But that trend is not being seen at the moment,” Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj told PTI, a news agency, during his visit to a government hospital on Monday (July 17). He added, “So far, cases of conjunctivitis, skin allergy and fungal infections are mostly being seen. Some cases of fever, dysentery and vomiting are also being reported but there is no serious trend.”

Also Read: Cases Of Conjunctivitis, Skin Allergy Mostly Being Reported From Relief Camps: Delhi Health Minister

For days, various parts of Delhi are flooded with Yamuna water overflowing and breaching the record level of 207.49 metres that it had touched 45 years back. People residing in low-lying areas like Yamuna Bazaar, Kashmere Gate, and ITO were forced to move out, leaving behind their belongings and living on streets or relief campsas houses were inundated.

Amid this, sanitation has become a major concern for people in flood-affected areas with the risk of mice, snakes and insects in residential areas. NDTV’s report from the waterlogged Monastery Market in Delhi shows mice playing in the water.

The water levels have receded in Delhi but the flood-like situation continues, raising fear of disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), floods can have medium- and long-term health impacts, including:

  • water- and vector-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid or malaria
  • injuries, such as lacerations or punctures from evacuations and disaster cleanup
  • chemical hazards
  • mental health effects associated with emergency situations
  • disrupted health systems, facilities and services, leaving communities without access to healthcare
  • damaged basic infrastructure, such as food and water supplies, and safe shelter.

Also Read: Dengue, Malaria Cases Could Rise In Delhi Due To Flooding: Mayor Shelly Oberoi

In an interview with team Banega Swasth India, Dr. Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Pulmonologist and Epidemiologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai said,

Wading through flood water can cause one to be infected with leptospira (germs released from rodents in their urine), which can cause severe, life-threatening illness. Skin infections and eye infections are common during floods, as a result of being exposed to contaminated water and contact of such water with the conjunctiva or skin surfaces.

Still water that accumulates during and after a flood can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes leading to vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. However, Dr Arun Gupta, President, of Delhi Medical Council believes,

Vector-borne diseases might take four to six weeks as mosquitoes require time to breed and spread. Supplying portable drinking water is the priority as the risk of gastrointestinal infections such as cholera, typhoid, leading to diarrhoea and vomiting remain.

Dr Gupta opines that the immediate impact will be a spike in water-borne diseases.

Dr Rakesh Kumar, Senior Consultant from Artemis Lite in Delhi’s New Friends Colony talked about the mental health impact of experiencing floods. He said,

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression are common among flood survivors, particularly those who have suffered severe loss or displacement. Also, infrastructure disruption, including damage to healthcare facilities and population displacement, can result in reduced access to medical care and increased vulnerability to chronic health issues.

Also Read: 136 Dengue Cases In Delhi, Health Minister Holds Meeting With Officials

Preventive Measures To Avoid Diseases During Floods

Important to note, a surge in disease burden can have a substantial impact on the public health system and infrastructure, including increased demand for healthcare services, stretched resources, and challenges in delivering timely care to the affected population. To address these impacts, Dr Vijay Arora, Senior Director, Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj suggests,

The government should focus on strengthening the public health infrastructure, ensuring the availability of essential medicines and supplies, mobilising healthcare personnel to affected areas, implementing disease surveillance systems, and conducting public health campaigns to educate the population on preventive measures and early identification of symptoms. Additionally, collaborations with international organizations, NGOs, and local communities can help support the public health system’s response to mitigate the impact of these diseases.

But how can you stay safe and stop the ripple effect? Access to clean water for drinking and sanitation purposes is the prerequisite to good health. To ensure the safety of drinking water, experts recommended either boiling and filtering water or using chlorine tablets. Dr Pinto also suggests using mosquito nets and repellants as tools of protection.

Dr Arun Gupta adds,

Avoid unhygienic street food. Maintain good personal hygiene – wash your hands with soap and water. Do not venture into waterlogged areas.

Also Read: Sundarbans, The Cyclone Capital Of India: The Direct Impact Of Cyclones On Health

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toiletsare used and open defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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