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February 11, 2020

Multan residents prone to waterborne diseases due to contaminated water

Peshawar

February 11, 2020

MULTAN: Residents of several areas are prone to waterborne diseases due to consumption of contaminated water, The News observed.

The water has foul smell and is not fit for human consumption. This is mainly due to old rusted pipelines that have developed leaks because of which sewage is getting mixed with drinking water. A Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) report has established the current sewerage is more than 30-year-old and has consumed its physical and technical life.

The public health engineers said that Multan sewerage needed in depth screening to detect penetration of dangerous viruses developing through poor lines and mixing with the water supply lines.

The district health authorities had launched a 10-day anti-polio campaign a couple of years ago when the poliovirus was found in Suraj Miani sewage samples. The poliovirus had already been found in sewage samples of Kotla Abul Fateh Colony, Ali Town and a number of union councils, the public health engineers said.

The health physicians said that the poor sewerage was the main reason for typhoid, polio and many other diseases that had spread across the city. A senior physician at Nishtar Hospital, Dr Imran Rafiq, said that when drinking water mixed with sewage, it caused different diseases, including hepatitis. The district health department had set up a five-day hepatitis screening camp in Multan during which it was revealed that 2,140 people were suffering from hepatitis, he said, adding that around 1,934 people were tested positive for hepatitis C and 206 for hepatitis B. Total 3,435 people were tested at the District Headquarters Hospital and of them 277 were tested positive for hepatitis C and 56 for hepatitis B. Further, 2,837 people were screened at the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Shujabad, and of them 1,235 were tested positive for hepatitis C and 113 for hepatitis B. As many as 2,288 people were screened at Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Jalalpur Pirwala, and of them 422 and 37 were tested positive for hepatitis C and B respectively.

The situation in rural areas is worse than urban areas. The groundwater is heavily contaminated with organic waste because of the lack of sewerage lines.

When contacted, Wasa Managing Director Nasim Khalid Chandio said that the government was taking realistic measures to resolve the issue. He said that the problems related to sewerage would be solved after the launch of new schemes. He said that Rs 4 billion were being spent on sewerage projects, replacement of dilapidated sewerage lines and up-gradation of Chungi No 9 disposal station.

Nasim Khalid said that the Punjab government had decided to replace old water supply lines and approved a number of schemes in this connection. A sum of Rs 1 billion would be spent on laying down new water supply lines, he added. He said that the agency was making efforts to materialise the project of establishing the waste treatment plant in south zone with the cooperation of the Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency.