As temperatures soar in Karachi, health officials have raised alarms over a surge in cholera cases, with at least 26 lab-confirmed instances reported by a prominent private health facility to the Sindh health department on Wednesday.

"Cases of acute watery diarrhoea are on the rise in Karachi, and laboratory tests confirmed 26 cases of cholera," revealed an official from the Director Health Karachi's office, speaking to The News. Most of these cases were recorded in March 2024.

Cholera, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is a severe diarrhoeal infection transmitted through contaminated food or water, classified as a global health threat by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The official, preferring anonymity, disclosed an unstated policy that refrains from officially confirming cholera outbreaks, instead using the term acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) in Pakistan, even with laboratory-confirmed cases.

Despite the confirmed cases, no official communication has been made to federal health authorities or the WHO. The source mentioned a previous outbreak, citing 110,309 suspected cholera cases reported nationwide from June 2022 to June 2023, with Sindh being the worst affected province.

Officials at Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, corroborated the detection of cholera cases but cited restrictions imposed by the Sindh health department for withholding detailed data from the media.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad expressed awareness of the outbreak but lamented the lack of information sharing from the Sindh health department, hindering prompt response efforts.

Highlighting sewage contamination concerns, officials at the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) confirmed the presence of Vibrio cholerae in clean water samples from various city areas, indicating sewage intrusion into drinking water.

According to the weekly IDSR report from NIH Islamabad, over 123,239 acute watery diarrhoea cases were reported in the 10th week of 2024, with Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reporting 316 suspected cholera cases. However, Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and other regions did not share their data.

Written By Web Desk

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