Dry weather in Lahore likely to pose threat to agriculture, health

Pic05-021 DERA ALLAH YAR: Jan 05 – A laborers on his back to hoe with his child after day long work. ONLINE PHOTO by Fida Hussain

LAHORE: The persistent dryness, along with below average rainfall, has caused weather-related diseases among the citizens of the provincial capital Lahore, and other parts of the province, as the experts have warned the situation may lead to an increase in the number of seasonal influenza patients in the city, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Moreover, the experts have also warned that the situation may pose an adverse effect on the agricultural sector.

This has been observed during the last few weeks, as the persistent dryness situation has caused a significant increase in the number of patients complaining of flue and cough.

An official in health department told this correspondent that, currently, the city is observing a high level of toxic pollutants in the air, which is adding to weather-related diseases among citizens, whereas the department is helpless to deal with the current situation.

“Though the city received rain in the second week of December, this could not bring a significant respite, as the number of patients increased in the hospitals,” he said, adding that the respite can be provided after rainfall, which would clear the toxic pollutants from the air. However, he said, that the department has issued an alert in the hospitals where doctors are keenly treating the patients.

Dr Salman Kazmi, a senior physician at Mayo Hospital and author of the book “Health by Education”, told Pakistan Today that the current weather situation has caused up to 50 per cent increase in the number of patients visiting the hospital daily. He explained that where this extreme weather may cause other diseases, this can also become a reason for transferring of seasonal influenza virus.

He said that the most patients coming to hospitals have been complaining of ear, nose and throat infections, which are caused by high level of toxic chemicals in the atmosphere.

“Asthma patients and children can be easily hit in such a prevailing weather situation,” Kazmi said, suggesting that children, elderly and asthma patients must be provided extra care.

Kazmi explained that the ongoing construction works on different roads of the city are also causing the clouds of dust to get mixed with other hazardous toxic chemicals, further exacerbating the situation.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department spokesman Agha Jahanzaib told Pakistan Today that the department was conducting a meeting to review the situation regarding the impact of weather on crops—particularly wheat, which is considered as one of the main crops of the country. He agreed that situation may be alarming for the upcoming wheat crop in case of delay in the rain.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) spokesman, on the other hand, informed Pakistan Today that the dry weather is going to persist for at least seven days.

“Met office cannot forecast rain in the next seven days,” he said, adding that all the concerned authorities had been informed regarding the situation.

He also warned that “due to lack of rains, the accumulative pollutants in the atmosphere would encourage fog formation during the period.”