Monday, June 15, 2009

World Vision says thousands at risk of disease in Sri Lanka

Monsoon rains are about to come to Sri Lanka, and for those who are in displacement camps, the rains could cause diseases. World Vision is concerned about the poor sanitation at the camps that could create rivers of sewage running through the camps.

From this World Vision press release, writer Rachel Wolff receives comments from workers in the country.

“We are very worried about the outbreak of diseases,” said Suresh Bartlett, World Vision's national director in Sri Lanka. “When the rains come in two weeks or so I can’t imagine what conditions will be like due to the lack of any proper drainage and toilet system.”

The sanitation facilities in the largest camps where most of the displaced are living are woefully inadequate and at least 11,500 more latrines are needed in the camps to comply with international minimum standards. With the monsoon rains expected to arrive within the next two weeks, at least 2,500 are needed immediately to meet even the most basic needs and to prevent a potential health crisis.

Unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation facilities give rise to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera as well as malaria and dengue fever, according to World Vision health experts. Most fatalities occur in young children.

“Camps further north in Jaffna have already experienced rains and there we have seen people trying to keep their things dry in overturned buckets and hanging their babies in saris to keep them off the ground and out of flood waters, “ said Bartlett.

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