Their homes have been destroyed and their crops washed away by rain-induced flooding. And then the mosquitos came down.
With many areas still flooded, families in the lower Sindh are struggling to swarm over swarms of insects on an unprecedented scale, while the lack of medical camps and fumigation adds to their ordeal.
“You [mosquitoes] kill us. We can step out of mosquito nets longer after sunset, “Haji Inayat Rind, a resident of Khipros Rind Colony, told The Express Tribune.
However, according to another resident, Bhagi Rind, even nets are not enough to keep them away. “It only rained a few days, but these monsters are not going away. They will suck all our blood.”
From Khipro to Mirpurkhas and Sanghar to Umerkot, residents of villages and small towns have complained about mosquitos. They are larger and more numerous than those common in the region. They also attacked livestock, killing dozens of cows, buffalo and goats, according to villagers.
To protect their remaining cattle from falling prey, these villagers put mosquito nets around their cattle.
“We’re trying to save the animals we left behind,” commented Sabagho Bheel from a village near the town of Khipro.
Similarly, Jahangir Junejo, who belongs to the village of Abu Bakar Junejo near Sindhri, said: “[Our] Harvests and houses have already been destroyed and now we are fighting to save our animals. “
According to the President of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Mirpurkhas, Aftab Ahmed Qureshi, mosquitoes are the second biggest problem in the region after standing water.
In recognition of this, local philanthropist and activist Malik Raja Abdul Haque said that those affected by rain no longer asked for rations, but needed mosquito nets.
The Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiques in Sindh, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, also recognizes the gravity of the situation.
“It’s a very serious problem. [If not addressed]We would have dozens of sick people in the coming days, “he observed.
Exposed to fumigation
Despite the urgency of the matter, fumigation remains on hold in the region after it was discontinued shortly after the representatives of the local authorities ended last week.
A senior official from Mirpurkhas division told The Express Tribune, on condition of anonymity, that many local government employees had stopped working and disrupted rehabilitation activities. “They stayed home and said their term was over.”
He went on to say that the end of rehabilitation efforts had resulted in rapid growth in mosquitos, although he claimed fumigation had started again in some areas. “But it is not enough to kill these monsters.”
Pakistan Peoples Party Senator, Quratulain Marri, agrees.
“Fumigation is not [permanent] Solution. Drainage is the only solution, “she stressed, adding that it would take at least three months to drain water from flooded areas.
No medical camps
The lack of medical camps in flood-affected areas further increases the risk of disease.
Since most hospitals are underwater, health authorities do little to ensure facilities are available. As a result, apart from areas such as Umerkot, which have been spared from flooding, there is a lack of medical camps.
According to the villagers, although officials have distributed some medicines, including Septran and Brufen syrups, they cannot address more serious illnesses.
“Our children have developed skin diseases and sometimes even high fevers,” said Haleema Machhi from Sufi Faqeer City. “But there is no doctor or medical camp here.” She thanked God for the few medicines they have and added, “I think my children will soon be suffering from contaminated water and mosquitoes.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the PTI Parliament in the Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh, stressed the need for the Sindh government to set up medical camps in disaster-hit areas. “There will be an outbreak of diseases including measles, malaria, and other skin and waterborne diseases, and I don’t see any medical help from the government.”
On the other hand, according to the General Director of Health Services in Sindh, 1,002 mobile medical camps and 1,732 stationary camps have been set up.
A senior health ministry official, who asked for anonymity, said: “Medical assistance is provided in all affected areas and doctors and support staff have worked on site.”
Posted in The Express Tribune on September 12, 2020.