Karachi: A large portion of population in Sindh can face an outbreak of water borne diseases, medical experts reveal after a judicial enquiry report disclosed that around 75 percent population uses unclean drinking water in Southern province of Pakistan.

Sarang Hussain Gabole, 22, got surgery of liver in Karachi. His parents are also suffering Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV).

Shabeer Hussain Gabole, father of Sarang, told Truth Tracker that his son was infected with hepatitis A Virus (HAV) initially, and later was diagnosed with HBV.

Gabole said that they belong to an under-developed area, village Meer Khan Gabole in District Ghokti, situated 600 Kilometer away from Karachi.

He said, there is no source of clean drinking water and almost 98 percent population of their village is suffering liver and stomach related diseases. Similarly, 80 percent residents are infected by HBV or HCV, he added.

He said that the date surfaced during a medical camp organized in 2014 in Meer Khan Village.

“This is not a problem for our village only. Almost all villages in Ghotki are facing this disaster,” Gabole added.

Supreme Court of Pakistan had formed a Judicial Enquiry Commission (JEC) in December 2016 on the request of a lawyer Shuhab Oasto from Shikarpur to probe into irregularities in water supply and sanitation services in Sindh.

JEC released report after eight-week investigations, which reveals that no filter and treatment plants are functional in Sindh. Around 75 percent people are drinking unclean water and untreated waste of human consumption and industrial waste that fall into Arabian Sea, Indus River and its tributaries in the province.

Report reveals that due to unclean supply of drinking water and poor sanitation services, water borne diseases are escalating on a large scale in the province.

A study of Pakistan Medical Research Council 2007-08, published in ‘Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine’ in 2015, says that HBV and HCV have increased to 2.5 percent and 5 percent respectively in Sindh while 0.2 percent population is infected by both HBV & HCV out of 35 million total population of the province.

HAV and HEV are water-borne diseases, mainly caused by contaminated water and unhygienic food, said General Physician Dr. Ajeet Kumar.

He said that situation is worst in Sindh as major segment of the population is facing threat of Hepatitis because of contaminated water.

Water supply and sanitation services are poor and health services are also dissatisfactory in the provincial hospitals as the JEC’s report alarms for an outbreak in Sindh, said Kumar.

If the situation worsens, an outbreak of diseases like HAV, HEV, Cholera, Diarrhea, Typhoid, etc. in different parts of province could be possible, he added.

Sindh Government is running Hepatitis Control Program since 2009 to treat HBV and HCV. Dr. Wali Mohammad Leghari, head of the HCP, told Truth Tracker, “Around 8.6 million people were vaccinated under HCP from 2009 to 2017.”

Dr. Fozia Waqar, a specialist for public health, said, “It is an alarming situation because unclean drinking water is being used on a large scale in the province.”

She said that HAV and HEV are water-borne diseases, not dangerous as the patients recover with simple treatment and care. “If people continue to consume contaminated water and unhygienic food both HAV and HEV turn into chronic and life-taking diseases,” she added.

She said that the government must look into the issue and supply clean potable water to avoid an outbreak of Cholera, Diarrhea, pneumonia and other water-borne diseases in Sindh. Already, these diseases are endemic in Thar because of water problem, she said.

Sindh’s Minister for Health Dr. Sikander Ali Mendhro disagrees with the view of medical experts and says that HAV and HEV are not fatal diseases and there are no risks of an outbreak.

“Sindh Government is following the instructions of JEC and supply of clean drinking water will be ensured in near future,” Mendhro added.

He said that HCP 2009 is being effectively run to treat HBV and HCV patients, and efforts are underway to supply clean drinking water that would reduce HAV & HEV patients too, said the minister.

However, Shuhab Oasto, the lawyer who had filed the petition to Supreme Court of Pakistan, says, “Huge Embezzlements in the funds for water supply and sanitation projects and bad governance are the main reasons for supply of unclean potable water in Sindh.”

The JEC report says that provincial authorities utilised 29 Billion rupees on 1337 schemes of water supply and drainage during the last five years while 582 of water supply and drainage schemes out of 1337 are non-functional.

JEC further reveals that Karachi has no mechanism to dump human and industrial waste. Untreated sewerage and industrial waste is being dumped in Arabian Sea. Indus River and its tributaries are also the main source to drain out sewerage water and industrial waste.

Director General of Sindh Environmental Agency Baqa Ullah Unar told Truth Tracker that 10000 registered industries run in Karachi city only. There is no proper mechanism to treat the waste, and around 500 million gallons of industrial waste and human consumption falls into Arabian Sea daily.

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