Flood Ravaged Areas: Children drowning, getting sick | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:33 AM, July 26, 2020

Flood Ravaged Areas: Children drowning, getting sick

Char resident Poran Sheikh was trying to move his wife and three children in a small fishing boat to a safer shelter when disaster struck.

The boat started swaying violently as the Teesta suddenly turned turbulent and large waves were hitting the boat.

His three-year-old child Sumon slipped out from his mother's lap and fell into the river, disappearing in the blink of an eye.

The family are flood victims from Kisamoter char shoal, under Dimla upazila, in the Teesta river last week.

Like Sumon, many other children have drowned in floodwaters raising concern among families in flood-hit areas.

Not just from drowning, during floods children suffer the most as they are particularly vulnerable to various waterborne diseases.

Field-level health officers are saying that numbers of child patients is increasing rapidly in flood-hit areas.

"Children suffer from diarrhoea, skin diseases, malnutrition and other disease during floods. We get higher numbers of child patients compared to other times," said Sarwar Alam, Dimla upazila health and family planning officer.

A UNICEF press release on Thursday said more than 2.4 million people, including around 1.3 million children, in the country are estimated to be affected by flooding.

In Tangail, two children drowned in the floodwaters at Kalihati and Nagarpur upazilas of Tangail on Friday.

On the other hand, waterborne diseases, including diarrhoea, are spreading among children while extended immunisation programmes have been hampered in the affected areas of the district.

Many of them were living with their families, having taken shelter on streets and embankments, under the open sky. They have little access to nutritious food and pure drinking water.

Acknowledging the situation, Dr Mohammad Mohiuddin, upazila health and family planning officer in the worst-affected upazila in Tangail, Bhuapur, told The Daily Star that the number of child patients were increasing at the upazila hospital.

In Jamalpur, at least 24 children have drowned in floodwaters this month, while over 250 children suffered from diarrhoea, according to local health authorities.

Besides, children living in shoal areas have been suffering from colds, cough, skin diseases and other waterborne diseases, said Dr Pronoy Kanti Das, district civil surgeon.

In Bogura, 100 families of Kanibari union under Sariakandi upazila, including 50 children, have been sheltering on a 200-metre dyke since June 26.

Nazrul Islam, 35, who has been living on the dyke, said, "Our children are suffering most. Before the pandemic and flood, they used to go to school. There was a vast char where they use to play. Now, they remain hungry most of the time.

The sanitation system is very poor and is creating an unhygienic environment all around. Most of the parents are also afraid of their children drowning in the floodwaters."

In Sirajganj, rural houses and fields went under floodwater, leaving children vulnerable to accidents when they are playing outside. A seven-year old boy drowned in floodwaters in Chauhali upazila last week.

In Thakurgaon and Panchagarh, at least 26 children have drowned in floodwaters in June and July.

Drowning has become common phenomenon in flood-hit areas so parents should be more careful at this time, said Thakurgaon civil surgeon Dr Mahfuzar Rahman Sarcar.

In Lalmonirhat, a schoolgirl in the first grade, seven-year-old Sinha Akhter, drowned in the floodwaters at Ambari village of Burimari union in Patgram upazila yesterday.

The victim's father, Alam Hossain, alleged that that a deep hole was created due to illegal lifting of stones using a dredger machine, in which stagnant floodwater had collected. His daughter drowned when she was crossing the knee-deep water to get to the road.

In Barishal, rampant erosion at many points of the river, is causing sufferings to people.

In Munshiganj, the Padma river was flowing 70 cm above the danger level at Bhagyakul point, inundating many areas.

Along with houses, a large amount of farmland and ponds have been submerged in the district.

Our correspondents from Nilphamari, Tangail, Bogura, Lalmonirhat, Thakurgaon, Pabna, and Barishal contributed to the story.


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