Health concerns intensify as floodwaters in Kwakwani continue to rise
By Vishani Ragobeer
As the floodwaters in the community of Kwakwani, Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice) continue to rise and cover people’s homes, Regional Chairman, Deron Adams, lamented that the regional authorities are fearful of a potentially devastating health situation.
Speaking to the News Room via telephone on Wednesday, the regional chairman highlighted that the floodwaters in Kwakwani have now risen to about 14 feet, past the roofs of many homes. With continuous rainfall expected, he said it is possible for the water to rise even higher.
According to him, this is the worst flood the community has ever experienced.
Already, a number of residents in the community and in other parts of Region 10 have been evacuated into shelters. According to the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), 18 people in the Region 10 community of Aroaima have been placed into shelters set up at the community’s nursery and primary schools while 31 people have been placed into the Kwakwani primary school.
As of Wednesday, the regional chairman said that the number of evacuees in Kwakwani has increased to 33.
But, he said that many other people have moved into the homes of their friends and families since they are concerned about the threat of COVID-19 in the shelters.
“Region 10 has already been recording a low percentage of the vaccination. It came from a lot of misinformation being peddled,” Adams said, adding that the concerns of COVID-19 spread has prevented many from going to the shelters.
Beyond COVID-19, the regional chairman said that there are other health threats.
“My concern there is health because persons [are] still using the pit latrines there at Aroaima and that [floodwater] mixing there with faeces and even animal faeces is a concern. You can have an outbreak of cholera, leptospirosis and those things,” he stressed.
To prevent a possible outbreak of these diseases, Adams said that the region needs a flood health preparedness and response plan. As such, he plans to meet with the regional health and environmental authorities shortly.
During one of his recent daily COVID-19 updates, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, highlighted that the health authorities have been monitoring the nationwide flooding and has mobilised resources such as bleach to purify water and skin ointments and creams to treat rashes.
During a recent on-the-ground flood assessment, President Irfaan Ali reassured the residents in Kwakwani and other communities in Region 10 that his Government, working with all stakeholders, including the CDC, will ensure that food, water and health supplies are provided.