Pneumonia and eye and skin diseases have broken out in Bangladesh in the aftermath of floods that claimed at least 953 lives, doctors and officials said Saturday.
"Over 3,500 medical teams working in the flooded areas are not fully equipped to handle these new diseases," said a Health Ministry official. "Most of them are not carrying enough medicines for these ailments."The government's toll of 953 from the flooding, which inundated about 80 percent of the country, is considered low. Newspapers put the toll in excess of 2,000.
The government's figures include 211 deaths from diarrhea, caused by the disruption of pure water supplies when floodwaters washed away pumps and inundated wells. Most of the other deaths occurred from drownings, and a lesser number from bites by poisonous snakes.
Flooding is an annual disaster in Bangladesh, where the 110 million people earn an average per capita income of $150 per year. Last year, floods during the monsoon season killed at least 1,500 people.
One doctor in Dhaka said an "unusually large number" of patients from flood-affected areas are suffering from eye ailments and skin diseases.
"A week or 10 days back, the daily average of such patients was about 10. Now it is between 50 and 60 every day," said the doctor.
At least 51,792 cases of diarrhea have been reported from flooded areas, where many victims had no way to boil water. A government effort to bring water purification tablets to the countryside has been largely unsuccessful.