Health risks remain after floodwater subsides in Assam

Published 18 July 2012  |  
While waters are starting to recede after three weeks of heavy rain in Assam, a missionary body is concerned over potential health problems that come with the flooding.

"This is monsoon season, so rains keep coming and it doesn't stop for a couple more months. But the waters are receding in some places. And what they're saying is: people are really, really afraid of malaria right now, because in the northeast part of India, you've already got problems with malaria," said Daniel Punnose with Gospel for Asia.

As water stands, says Punnose, cholera is also an increasing threat to the hundreds of thousands of people who are trapped in the flood's path.

GFA has a number of Bridge of Hope centers and partner churches in the Assam area, many of which are now under water.

Although monsoon rain is always expected, few in the region were anticipating the Brahmaputra River to overflow as it did in late June. As a result, 80 villages were engulfed, displacing 80,000 people and affecting 900,000 total.

The hurdles of potential disease, hunger, dehydration, exposure, and other life threats are heightened by Assam's location.

"This is tribal area, this is not in the city," explains Punnose. "So no one's going to come rescue them; there's no insurance that kicks in, there's no coast guard that comes and rescues people. They're kind of just left on their own."

The crisis has thrown GFA workers into overdrive. Punnose says the good news is that since they have churches and Bridge of Hope centers in Assam, there are at least workers ready and willing to distribute aid. On the other hand, ministry at those locations has come to a screeching halt until waters recede completely.

GFA is taking canoes, row boats, and any other means necessary to get to these clusters with food, blankets, clean water, and other preventative aid.

As of Monday, the flooding in Assam has claimed 109 lives and left at least 400000 people homeless.

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