Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has taken notice of the cholera outbreak in Dera Bugti district’s Pir Koh tehsil and directed the federal and provincial governments to take steps on an emergency basis to stop the spread of the disease.
According to a Radio Pakistan report published on Sunday, the prime minister — who is expected to return later today after travelling to London and the UAE — has issued directives for providing food items, clean drinking water and other assistance to those affected while also ensuring provision of medicines.
The developments come a day after the residents of Pir Koh took out a rally and staged a sit-in over a lack of clean drinking water and the alarming rise in the number of cholera cases.
People took to the roads in droves, carrying banners and placards inscribed with their demands, chanting slogans against the government and the local administration, before finally staging a sit-in and blocking the road leading towards the gas plant.
Local tribal elders speaking on the occasion said there was an outbreak of cholera due to the absence of clean drinking water in Pir Koh. “We have no other option but to drink contaminated water from the ponds along with the animals,” they said.
People had been protesting for the last two days, but no steps had been taken so far to provide clean drinking water, they lamented, adding that around a dozen, including children, people had lost their lives to cholera so far in Pir Koh tehsil.
However, health officials have confirmed six deaths so far.
“Six people, including three young children, died of cholera in Pir Koh,” said Balochistan Health Secretary Mohammad Saleh Nasar.
He said teams of doctors and paramedical staff had reached the affected areas along with required medicines. Besides, a medical camp had been set up by the health department to treat the affected people, he said.
Dera Bugti District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Azam Bugti told Dawn.com yesterday that the number of cumulative cholera patients had reached 2,577, noting 210 new infections.
Also yesterday, Senator Sarfraz Bugti of the Balochistan Awami Party urged authorities to declare an emergency in Pir Koh, take stock of the situation and lend aid to the afflicted, along with completing water supply schemes. He had also disputed the official death toll.
Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo recently approved additional funds of Rs300 million for emergency completion of ongoing water supply projects in Dera Bugti district. In a meeting with provincial adviser Nawabzada Ghuram Bugti, he had discussed the solution to the water crisis in different areas of the Dera Bugti district.