No grassroots awareness as Naegleria fowleri deaths increase in KarachiJuly 10, 2014
Karachi: Naegleria fowleri a rare disease is spreading fast in Karachi and so far at least five reported deaths have been unearthed in the city this year, while the number of unreported death cases might be very high.
For last few years Naegleria fowleri visits the city every year and spreads through non-chlorinated potable water. This disease is dreaded because there is no treatment available and the survival chance of diagnosed patients is almost zero. The government policymakers at the provincial level are still unmoved despite five Naegleria fowleri deaths this year alone. In past the government used to issue daily reports about such diseases including dengue on daily basis, but as these reported were also unveiling the inefficiency and bad governance of the provincial government, the issuance of these daily reports were abruptly stopped. Though the suppression of information from public is the hallmark of dictatorial governments but the elected governments when marred with corruption and bad governance also gladly suppress vital information from the general public.
The main issue related to the Naegleria fowleri is that it reaches the brain of the victim via nose and eat up its brain tissues, resulting in a certain death. In Karachi millions of people, young and old, men, women and children irrigate their noses during Wudu (ablution) before offering a prayer, and many faithful offer the prayers five times a day. People use normal non-chlorinated water in homes and mosques for Wudu, which means highly increased chances of catching Naegleria fowleri ameba. This is really a grave public health threat but the related government departments have yet to realize its gravity.
Karachi not only needs a hundred percent chlorinated water supply but also a detailed guidelines for general public about the use of water in washing their noses during Wudu and Ghusl (full body ablution). Here also come the role of religious scholars, TV channels airing religious programs, radio and print media. The religious scholars (Muftis) should guide the people how to perform Wudu and Ghusl in conditions where the proper chlorination of water is not ensured. Should people keep small bottles of boiled water or saline water in their pockets and use this water for nose irrigation during the Wudu and Ghusl, or they should not perform the ritual of nose irrigation, as such lifesaving facilities are often ensured in religion. Anyway, this is a very serious matter pertaining to the daily lives of millions of people and also to their health and life.
It is high time the provincial government including its health and local government departments, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, religious learning departments of leading public and private universities, noted seminaries, religious scholars, Muftis, theologians and jurisprudence experts should realize their responsibilities and ensure a grassroots awareness in Karachi as how to fight the threat of Naegleria fowleri.
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