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Diarrhea Spreads in Parts of Bangladesh in Cyclone Aila’s Aftermath

Health officials on Sunday said that a diarrhea outbreak has spread across Bangladesh’s southwest due to the effects of Cyclone Aila, which hit parts of Bangladesh and India on May 25, AFP/Google.com reports. Diarrhea broke out at an “alarming rate” because inundation and water logging have destroyed large amounts of land and supplies of drinking water near Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, according to health workers.

“The situation is alarming. So far we have more than 5,000 people who are sick with diarrhea in this region. Another 3,000 have been treated for water borne diseases like dysentery,” Lutfur Rahman Khan, the regional medic chief, said (AFP/Google.com, 5/31).

On Friday, Reuters published an article describing relief agencies’ fears about the emergence of disease in the aftermath of the cyclone. According to Reuters, aid workers and authorities were scrambling “to distribute relief to people in West Bengal and Bangladesh’s coastal belt,” while fears were “growing for thousands of marooned families who are in more remote and inaccessible locations” (Bhalla, Reuters, 5/29).

Bangladesh Requests Foreign Aid for Emergency Response

On Sunday, Ruhal Haque, Bangaldesh’s health minister, said, “I am quite confident that the health situation will remain under control.” He said that 891 medical teams were working in affected coastal areas and that health officials have been told to give maximum support to people who have been affected by the cyclone (Xinhua/CriEnglish.com, 6/1). However Abdur Razzak, Bangladesh’s food and disaster management minister, said that half a million people remain stranded because of the cyclone.

“We are struggling to ensure supply of drinking water to the worst affected areas,” he said, adding that shelter is also a problem. “We don’t need any food or relief, but we are going to seek foreign aid to build embankments and cyclone shelters. We have to build the embankments immediately to protect people from salty water,” Razzak said ( AFP/Google.com, 6/1).

U.S. Provides $295,000 in Assistance

U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh James Moriarty on Monday issued a disaster declaration to provide emergency assistance worth about $295,000. According to the U.S. embassy, the emergency survival packs include plastic sheeting, eating utensils, candles, rope, soap, matches and mosquito netting to be distributed to victims in the southern districts (DPA/Monstersandcritics.com, 6/1).

AFP/Google.com reports that almost 300 people have died as a result of Cyclone Aila. Indian officials said 125 people had died as a result of the cyclone (AFP/Google.com, 6/1). On Sunday, the Bangladeshi government said in a statement that 167 people had died and 7,108 people were injured (Government of Bangladesh release/ReliefWeb, 5/31).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.