Kemari’s 19 deaths in two weeks due to toxic industrial emissions sparked concern.
After 19 deaths attributed to suspicious respiratory tract infections in the past two weeks, health authorities in the Kemari district have been placed on high alert.
Now, doctors want to use portable scanners to go into the affected area to learn more about what’s ailing the locals.
A mysterious respiratory tract infection has been blamed for a recent rash of deaths in the coastal Kemari district, including Ali Mohammad Goth and Mawach Goth, where numerous working-class families live and work in the port loading and industrial areas of Karachi.
16 of the people who died were children. Locals claim that the mysterious disease caused the deaths of four family members simultaneously.
They went on to say that between 30 and 35 children are currently afflicted with the mysterious disease.
The exact illness and its cause are still under investigation by district authorities. Despite this, they have a strong suspicion that the deaths were brought about by emissions from illegal factories that have emerged in the region over the past few weeks.
What do medical professionals say? On Thursday, Dr. Arif Rehman, the district health officer for Kemari, said that at least two of the children who died were confirmed to have died from measles.
However, he stated that the causes of the deaths in Ali Mohammad Laghari Goth have not been determined.
He said, “We have taken samples of mucus and sputum, set up a health camp in the area, deputed a doctor there, and we have taken samples of sputum.” He also said that their health teams are in the affected area.
He stated, “We will bring portable x-ray machines to the area tomorrow to scan affected patients.”
When asked about the deaths of children, he stated that adults as well as children have suffered.
He thought that the deaths were caused by toxic emissions from nearby illegal factories.
He claimed that “action was taken against factories, which is why there were no deaths reported from these areas today.”
In the meantime, the DHO has approached the provincial Environment, Climate Change, and Coastal Development Department of the Sindh government for assistance.
On Thursday, Dr. Rehman requested “most urgent” assistance in a letter to the director general of the environment department.
Dr. Rehman wrote in the letter that the matter was of “urgent priority” and that he was informed of some deaths in the district that were caused by “suspicious respiratory tract infection” in Ali Mohammad Goth and Mawach Goth.
He wrote, “When we sent our surveillance team for further investigation, they found few factories emitting noxious gasses, and these deaths have occurred after a week of these factories opening, which are likely to be the cause of these respiratory tract illnesses and deaths in this locality,” noting that his teams are still looking into the situation.
He requested that the district health office receive technical assistance from the environment office in order to determine the cause and instructed the relevant authorities to immediately order these factories to cease operations in order to bring the inciting agent under control.