Fighting disease just one of many jobs facing BMA
The NationAside from the immediate problems facing the capital, which the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is tackling through regular channels provided by its six departments and one bureau, many post-flood issues await city officials' attention.
Right now, the most important issue is public health, specifically the problems of preventing disease outbreaks and transporting BMA-supervised doctors to homes of those refusing to evacuate.
Saruwuth Sonthikaew, director of the BMA's Medical Service Department, said mobile medical teams had been stationed around Bangkok to serve at shelters and provide check-ups.
In particular, he warned of outbreaks of diarrhoea and leptospirosis - both of which can be fatal if not treated properly - and other diseases, as well as cold and flu, and infections of wounds, which he said was common in the event of floods.
In terms of medications and first aid, the Health Department has more than 900,000 kits ready to be provided, along with free counselling for those suffering from stress due to flooding and loss of property, said director Monthira Thongsari.
The department has already planned numerous public health activities in advance - some were prepared even before Bangkok was flooded, she said. Homes with elderly occupants are marked with white flags, while green flags designate those housing occupants with chronic diseases requiring delivery of medications.
Evacuations of such people are carried as soon as their homes begin to be hit with flood water, and occupants are provided with continuous medical services. In addition to routine services, surveillance for possible disease outbreaks is underway and will continue for up to another month.
Monthira said particular symptoms such as red eyes and respiratory problems were being closely monitored. Residents are advised not to expose their eyes to floodwater, to be strict about hygiene in food preparation, to keep their hands clean and their bodies warm, while doing what they can to reduce stress and watch out for poisonous reptiles and insects.
For garbage collection, the Environment Department is looking for an alternate disposal site in case the BMA's main compound in the On Nut area is flooded, said director Banjong Sukdee. He added that routine collection was still going on in many flooded areas, although the amount being collected had dropped.
The Department of Drainage and Sewerage is mobilising workers to collect water weeds and garbage around the clock in more than 1,600 canals in Bangkok to ensure that drainage rates are maintained.
Director Jirasak Jiwalak said local administrative bodies and the Royal Irrigation Department should help collect garbage and water weeds in other provinces north of Bangkok, which is where the flood water arriving in the capital originates.
As a long-term flood-prevention measure, the Department of City Planning will update its regulations and carry out inspections to make sure homes and buildings are not constructed in such a way as to obstruct waterways. This effort is focused on eastern Bangkok, which contains many natural flood channels leading to estuaries, said director MR Premsiri Kasemsant.
To serve flood evacuees in Bangkok-based shelters, kitchens supervised by the Bureau of Social Development are making ready-to-eat meals and providing accommodation on a daily basis, while small-time fruit planters will be eligible for a limited amount of finding. Those who suffer from stress are being given counselling, said director Kosin Theswong.
The BMA's Public Works Department is building makeshift bridges in flooded communities and is working on preventing inundation of two underpasses along Ratchadaphisek Road. A survey of damaged BMA roads and properties is being conducted to evaluate losses and repair costs for post-flooding restoration, said director Winai Limsakul.
-- The Nation 2011-11-14http://www.nationmultimedia.com/