Nearly 3,000 cases and 6 deaths have been reported since a cholera outbreak was detected in the Pakistani region of Balochistan due to poor access to clean drinking water.
However, different sources claim death could be in the dozens. Sarfraz Bugti, a Pakistani Senator, posted on his Twitter account: “20 died including children due to the cholera epidemic spiralling out of control in Pir Koh.”
With the ongoing drought intensifying, local populations have been sharing water sources with cattle and water has become contaminated.
Dr Muhammad Azam Bugti, the district health officer in Dera Bugti, said: ““Over 85% of Balochistan’s population is deprived of clean drinking water.”
Although emergency measures are being taken, hospitals are overflowing and are struggling to deal with the influx of infected patients.
There has been civil unrest and in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest against inefficient government action and what they claim to be an underreporting of victims.
Cholera is a bacterial disease usually spread through contaminated water. When left untreated, the infection can be lethal in a matter of hours.
The last two decades have seen the province of Balochistan desertify. The region depends heavily on underground water and Dr Faiz Kakar, former head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said: ““Quetta city can also turn into a desert if proper steps are not taken to control the depleting underground water table.”