A LARGE number of patients, especially children and elderly citizens, suffering from cold-related illnesses across the country due to a sudden winter wave and the unpreparedness of hospitals to attend these patients are worrying. A whooping number of 4,254 people, according to the Health Emergency Operations Centre and Control Room, were either admitted to or treated at hospitals across the country on Saturday for the common cold-related diseases or the diseases aggravated by cold weather including respiratory problems, diarrhoea, jaundice, skin disease, fever and others. A total of 36,838 people, suffered from cold related illnesses since December 16 when a mild cold wave began sweeping over the country, while at least 28 people died of diseases related to cold weather in November. The actual figure might be much higher as the control room has recorded admissions only in the government hospitals. With a sharp fall of temperature which is believed by meteorologists to continue on and off for the next one and half a month, cold-related diseases are highly likely to intensify taking a toll on public health.
Hospitals across the country are already struggling to deliver proper treatments and care facilities to the patients. They are being accommodated on the chilly floors of the hospitals which often aggravate cold-related complications. Special care to the children and the elderly, in such a situation, is what is called for to arrest any unwanted death from cold-related diseases. About five million homeless people, who are forced to sleep in the open, are the most vulnerable group hit hard by the cold. No comprehensive relief mechanism on part of the government, however, is still visible to help relieve the homeless and the poor of the cold and cold-related illnesses. The government should step forward immediately to help the homeless people to fight the cold waves. The poor, especially in the northern region of the country, are also bearing the brunt of the cold.
The government must undertake a relief programme to help people in poverty to fight the cold weather. Hospitals across the country must also step up their efforts to deliver proper treatments to the increasing number of patients. Awareness among people about how to deal with cold spells can also help people better prepare and take care of themselves.
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