By Liljana Meshaj – Sarajevo
As B&H continues to struggle with the consequences of the worst floods that occurred in SEE, a new concern appears after the situation has slightly improved with the termination of rainfalls. In addition to people who lost their lives, landslides have moved houses and landmines left over from the war in the 1990s, causing damages on road infrastructure and other faculties, but at the moment the biggest concern is the possible outbreak of diseases in B&H as temperature rise. Water is polluted and dead animals lie on flooded areas.
Moreover, the streets of the affected areas are full of waste materials that the water has carried out or that people kept throwing from their houses since these things were under the water and they represent a potential source of infection. The waste materials attract rats, dogs and flies, which can transmit various diseases. The temperature rise makes the risk of infection diseases even higher if the cities are not cleaned as soon as possible. The bad smell is spreading. Many vulnerable areas are faced with the lack of equipments and mechanism to clean the cities.
Furthermore, Minister of Health of Federation of B&H, Rusmir Mesihović, stated that the next fifteen days are crucial for the prevention of epidemics. The biggest threats are the appearance of enterocolitis, typhus and hepatitis that can be caused by drinking the contaminated water. Water is withdrawing, but the problems are just starting. The most vulnerable areas for now are Maglaj, Tuzla, Orašje and Odžak. The minister emphasizes that the most important thing is for people from the flooded areas to not use drinking water from the pipe or local water supply system, but to use bottled, boiled and chlorinated water when possible. He clarified that it is necessary to carry out disinfestations and then rodenticide as soon as possible, in order to prevent the possible occurrence of epidemics.
The Federal Department of Public Health of B&H has composed all the recommendations in regard to the health protection of the residents of the affected areas and has published them on their website. The Director of the Department, Željko Ler, stated that there haven’t been any reported cases of epidemic occurrence of acute infectious diseases, but the epidemiological situation is assessed as unsafe with a tendency towards deterioration. He pointed out that the biggest risk of infectious diseases will appear when the situation with floods will improve, regarding the devastated infrastructure, lack of potable water, lack of means for maintenance of personal hygiene etc.
Finally, the authorities in charge for cleaning should react as soon as possible in order to prevent further deterioration of the situation. However, access to many cities of the flooded affected areas is only possible by air, since many roads are blocked due to the landslides.