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Kerala floods: Focus now on epidemic control

By PTI
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    Kochi, Aug 23: Floods in Kerala pose a great challenge to the state health authorities as they struggle to check a possible outbreak of epidemics, a problem associated with the deluge, official sources said in Kochi on Thursday.

    Devastation due to Kerala floods

    Health department officials said post-floods their focus has shifted to ensuring medical attention for the injured and the people living in shelter camps, cleaning of houses and wells, distribution of medicines and cleaning materials to the affected people.

    The impact of floods in the densely populated state can be widespread, they said, adding that this includes deterioration of water quality and risk of epidemics. People who returned to their flood-ravaged homes said their toilets and other sanitation facilities had been rendered useless and water in wells was contaminated with waste.

    "We are anxious, but we are confident that we will be able to tackle this situation," health minister K K Shailaja Teacher said.

    She said the state health department was taking all measures, utilising all its available resources and working actively to check the outbreak of epidemics.

    "We have a strong team. We are (well) equipped (and) we will tackle this situation," she added.

    Reports from the hilly district of Wayanad said thousands of decaying carcasses of cows, goats and pigs were being dumped in rivers as their scientific disposal became impossible due to inability of their owners to return from the relief camps. The situation in North Paravoor in Ernakulam district was no different.

    [Kerala floods: Foreign assistance, policy of uniformity vs chapter 9 of NDMP]

    People who returned to their houses in villages devastated by the floods said it was impossible for them live there due to the foul smell emanating from the animal carcasses. Officials said they are equally worried about health risks posed by e-wastes.

    Tons of electronic items like televisions, computers, mobile phones, refrigerators and air conditioners can be found strewn around in the streets of flood-hit towns of Aluva, Ranni, Chalakkudi and North Paravoor. Disposal of e-waste is also a big challenge.

    It could contribute to the possibility of outbreak of an epidemic in the fast urbanising, densely populated state, officials said. With flood waters receding in most places, the Kerala government has taken up a massive task of cleaning houses and public places filled with slush left behind by the massive deluge that claimed 231 lives, besides causing large-scale destruction.

    [Kerala: The rains have stopped, but the misery has not]

    The government has set up a control room here to coordinate the cleaning process across the state and the civic bodies have been entrusted with the task of managing the work, official sources said.

    PTI

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