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SANJAY GUPTA MD

Devastation in Pakistan

Aired September 4, 2010 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: -- remain displaced more than a month into this flooding. They talk about 17 million people being displaced and people are getting sick in hospitals as well. We're going to look at the journey of people who live like this and then get sick.

We're also going to talk about something critically important -- aid, basic aid, food, water, medical supplies. How does it reach the people who need it the most?

And finally, there is some hope out there. People who have dreams and aspirations who want to make something of themselves, even using tents like this to start an education.

Let's get started.

(MUSIC)

GUPTA: You know, we've seen a lot of hopeful things here in Pakistan over the last week, people trying to get themselves out of terrible situations. We've also seen what happens when people become desperate, when the supplies just aren't coming in fast enough. And sometimes, it can be very heartbreaking.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Ever wonder what desperation looks like? This is it.

(on camera): The police are coming in to basically break up this demonstration. What happened here was: locals basically set up a roadblock right over here. As soon as an aid truck would come in, they would basically storm that aid truck and try and steal as many supplies as they could.

(voice-over): They're desperate and they're quick to tell you about it. It wasn't so much anger as it was bitter frustration and hopelessness. Thousands of displaced people are being forgotten and ignored.

(on camera): Here's how it's supposed to work. A much more organized camp, for example. A family over here, they have mats, they have tents that can withstand a lot of the rain that's coming.

If you look inside this tent over here you, see water jugs, you see cooking oil, even cooking utensils.

(voice-over): The problem is, you won't find many camps like this one. Most look like this. Thousands of families -- low on tents, low on food, thick with desperation.

(on camera): One of the really difficult situations here is that there's no mechanism of distributing the aid. It is just awful to think about and as people describe it to us, they say it's just really embarrassing to be treated like animals.

Where is all the aid going? We see trucks with aid in it. But it doesn't seem to be getting to people who need it the most.

(voice-over): So, we followed this aid truck from a distance. First sign of hope these people felt in weeks.

But what was about to happen was outrageous. First, government rangers with big sticks organized. Women and children here, men over there -- all of them waiting in the hot sun.

(on camera): This is hard to believe. These people have been waiting now for some time for food -- women and children over here; men over here. The truck was there with aid in it, pulled into the gas station. And now, they're just leaving.

(voice-over): There was no explanation for this. The more importantly, all these people are still hungry, still thirsty.

(on camera): This is incredibly heartbreaking. People are waiting for quite a while for that truck, thinking they were going to get aid. And they received nothing.

(voice-over): Commander Faisal Shah (ph) has the impossible task of trying to feed 20 million people.

(on camera): Have you been out to some of these camps outside of here and talked to the people? Have you actually -- have you actually heard from them? Because I hear what you're saying, but when I talk to them, I hear something entirely else.

CMDR. FAISAL SHAH, PAKISTAN NAVY MARINE CORPS: People are desperate. But there are also people who have been very well fed. And I believe that most of them are being fed regularly.

GUPTA (voice-over): But I saw a different story in the dozen refugee camps I visited. There's no regular meals here. Desperation mounts.

(on camera): It's going on again. People basically are just going in trying to get whatever they can get. I just want to give you a quick idea of what can happen to some of the most precious commodities needed when something like this happens. I mean, it was just a riot out here. Needed medicine, antibiotics, end up on the ground shattered literally.

(voice-over): Desperation has its consequences. And in this case, no one benefited.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Just so hard to see so many of those supplies smashed there on the ground. Obviously, a lot of people need things like that more than ever.

You know, we showed you a town last week, a town that was on the brink of flooding. I have to be honest. I was a bit skeptical when people told me the flood waters were coming. They told me that this entire town would be flooded over the next several hours.

Take a look at these images. The images are the exact same town, now completely covered with water. You can't get there by foot or by car anymore. You have to get there by boat.

The water comes fast. It comes furious. And think about that river and all of its force sweeping away so many towns. It is still happening now.

Also, when you look at that water, as a doctor, oftentimes, I think of the potential disease it can cause. People are being forced to drink that water, millions of them. It's killer water. I want to take a look at the impact on human bodies.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: A lot of people wonder just how bad is the flooding -- especially here in southern Pakistan. But take a look at the map here. This is the Indus River over here. That's how wide it should be. And right now, it's about this wide instead.

Water just in all those areas that should be dry land. Want a better idea? Well, we're on a boat.

Take a look out here. As far as the eye can see, this is just water, power lines in the middle of it. All of this should be dry land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: All of that water, of course, people trying to leave those areas and come to higher ground like this. We are in near Karachi, Pakistan, in the middle of a refugee camp. A lot of people here have made this their home. They've been here for days and weeks, and they're going to be here for days and weeks to come.

You know, all of that water you see out there can cause all sorts of disease. People worry about this every time there's a natural disaster. But I can tell you, in Pakistan, this second wave of infectious disease, well, it's already started. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Fayez Ali (ph) is now giving something millions across Pakistan cannot: medical care. It's amazing, because up until a couple of days ago, his life looked like this. And then he got sick, very sick.

A parents' love for their son took over. Knowing he would die, they took a gamble. Left everything they had behind and just started moving, somewhere, anywhere.

(on camera): We've probably never seen a line like this before, but this is a line for people waiting to get into the hospital. You see garbage all around the place. They stay here all day long, waiting.

A lot of people have infectious diseases that are associated with drinking contaminated water. It's what we've been talking at. This is a diarrheal treatment center specifically for children. Let's take a look.

(voice-over): Fayez finally made it inside.

(on camera): Your town is completely covered in water.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GUPTA: He's been sick for some time. He's saying he was sick even before the flood and just became much worse during the flooding.

(voice-over): Three years old, weighs just 10 pounds. He's so small. For comparison, I have a 3-year-old daughter who is closer to 30 pounds. And Fayez is so fragile.

Young children have weaker immune systems. They became more easily dehydrated. And like millions of people around the country, he didn't have a choice when he got thirsty. Killer water, or none at all. Imagine drinking that.

I've covered so many natural disasters. There's always fear of a second wave of disease. But access to clean water helped control that risk after the Haiti quake.

In Pakistan, though, the second wave -- it's already here.

(on camera): It's so hard to see these little kids so sick on these dusty, dirty tables. IVs hanging.

This baby is so small. All you see is her little foot hanging out with an I.V. again. And another child here.

And these children are sick. This is a diarrheal treatment center to take care of them. Some of these children have come from a flood. Some of them are just citizens of Pakistan dealing with these issues on a pretty regular basis.

(voice-over): Killer water, just consider the impact: already 1 million people with crippling diarrhea and respiratory infections; malaria, 65,000 cases. And the World Health Organization is projecting hundreds of thousands of patients with cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Pakistan could literally be held hostage by killer water -- and all of this disproportionately affecting Pakistan's next generation, like little 3-year-old Fayez.

(on camera): Check little things to see how dehydrated they are. Push on the tips of their fingers and the flood doesn't really come back very quickly, so dehydrated.

He's got a very weak pulse as well. His poor little mouth is so dry. But he's in the right place. He's one of the lucky ones.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You know, so many of you have been writing in asking how you can help. And I can tell you, the solutions are actually pretty simple. That's the good news. Giving people I.V. fluids, giving them supportive care to boost their immune systems and making sure that they can bet antibiotics if necessary.

But this whole idea of purifying water, taking that bad water and making it good -- well, that's something we investigated as well. We'll have that after the break.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We are back with SGMD.

I can tell you, having covered a lot of natural disasters like this -- it really comes down to clean water. If you can get clean water, you can solve so many problems.

We wanted to show you, we think this is important, just how easy this can be done. This is Dr. Eric Mintz from the CDC. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ERIC MINTZ, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: To treat water, they may look clean but isn't safe to drink, it's as simple as adding a tablet to the water vessel. Each of these tablets is enough to treat 20 liters of drinking water and costs just pennies. It will dissolve on its own and the chlorine, you know, in the water solution will just spread around.

Another way to treat water that looks clean but may not be safe to drink is to add liquid chlorine into the water. This product can be purchased in countries where people don't have access to safe water. A full bottle is enough to treat water for a family of five people every day for a whole month. And all they need to do is pour one capful into the water.

If you're in a disaster and you can't find a clean source of water, all you can find is muddy, turbid water like this water, there's a great method that will help flocculate, that is coagulate and settle out the dirt and the mud in the water and make it look cleaner and will also chlorinate and disinfect all the microorganisms. So, to do that, you need a combined chlorination flocculation product like this powder in this sachet. This sachet is enough to treat 10 liters of water.

So, we're just going to add a little bit of the powder to this two-liter beaker. And then we're going to stir.

All of the organic matter is beginning to clump together and settle down to the bottom of the container. You want to be able to decant the clear water off of the top into a safe storage container. That will capture the sediment but allow the water to go through. At the bottom of the mixing container, all the sediment, the organic matter that is coagulated and flocculated has settled to the bottom and it's now removed from the drinking water.

After waiting 30 minutes for the chlorine to take full effect, it's safe to pour the treated water from the storage container into a glass in a cup. And I hope you can see the difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now, we showed you that for a couple of reasons. One is that it's really all about clean water. It's about turn that bad water into good water.

We also wanted to show you how easily it can be done. Sometimes, it requires systems of purification. Sometimes, it can be as easy as tablets.

So many of you have been asking about this particular issue, hundreds of you on Twitter and on the e-mails. Getting water purification tablets, for example, using things like life straws which can purify water as well, it's too cumbersome many times to bring lots of bottled water into camps like this. So, using simple technologies that are easily accessible, cheap, and can be distributed in a place like this -- that's really the key.

So, as you think about how to give, you think about how to help, think about that clean water and think about some of those solutions.

You can find out much more as well at CNN.com/ImpactYourWorld. Lots of relief organizations listed there. Look at them. Read about them. Pick one that you may want to help.

There is a lot of hope out here. We don't want you feeling that there's no hope, there's not -- it's all desperation. A lot of people do have dreams, they have aspirations, and they have hopes. You're going to meet some of them after the break.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with the program.

You know, having covered a lot of stories like this -- when you're walking through a camp for internally displaced people like this one, sometimes, every now and then, you get surprised. That happened to me today.

I was walking through this tent. And I came upon this tent and all these kids were inside doing their homework. In the midst of everything going on around them, in the midst of a fight for basic supplies they want to continue to study, they want to continue to educate themselves. They have grand dreams and aspirations, which they told me about. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Here in Pakistan, there are fields of dreams. They look like this, mixed with pain and poverty. But spend some time here and look closer.

(on camera): So, this is something maybe you wouldn't expect to see. We're in this tent. All the kids in this particular tent are doing their homework.

This is Rashma (ph). She's 8 years old.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GUPTA: She's trying to do her schoolwork, she's telling me.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GUPTA: She tells me she wants to be a doctor. People here have dreams, just like Rashma and a lot of other kids that are -- that are here with her.

(voice-over): They had a real house once, they tell me. It's now covered with water. She had her friends, she went to school. And, yes, she had dreams.

It's Rashma's story. And it may not be much different than yours -- starting with the neighborhoods they were forced to leave.

(on camera): Looking at all the images, you may think that people effected with this mud only lived in little grass huts. Simply not true. I mean, real neighborhoods affected by this flood as well. Homes and all these people had to flee, also.

(voice-over): And she ended up here, no idea how long she will stay, so she does her homework. And her parents' mission: establish some sort of normalcy for their kids, a routine for Rashma rooted in religion.

(on camera): You're looking at aid being distributed here. This is rice with some potatoes and chickpeas. They put that in big buckets and they distribute it to all these tents.

One of the things that may surprise you a little bit is that they wait until the sun goes down. It is Ramadan. And even here in a camp like this, they make sure to abide by those rules, no food in between.

(voice-over): Rashma and others in this camp are surprised when I report about the flood waters starting to recede -- surprised because just this week another million people in southern Pakistan became displaced, fleeing waters on the rise.

(on camera): She said she knows some English and she wanted to try that out with me as well.

So, what is your name?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: My name is (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: You're name is -- OK. And you're answering for her. What is your name?

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: My name is Ramsha.

GUPTA: Very good. Very good.

(voice-over): Nothing can change this reality -- more than a dozen awful deaths over the past week here, and people who have lost everything simply trying to survive. But that's the thing about hopes and dreams. They are spread equally throughout the world, and no one can take them away from you.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GUPTA: She said she really likes to go to school, and she says she's studying really hard to be a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes.

GUPTA: Yes. Do you think you can do it?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I don't know.

GUPTA: You can do it. OK.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Just a small example of what I think is happening in lots of camps like this all over the country. Again, there's a lot of details we've been sharing at how bad things are, but there are incredible stories like this one as well.

We'll be right back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with the program SGMD.

This is a refugee camp in Pakistan. And if you spend a lot of time here, like we have over the last week, you remember just what a young country Pakistan is and how many kids in particular have been affected by this earthquake.

Now, there are kids just about everywhere you look. And about 8 million of them specifically have been affected. Several million of them don't have any access to clean water, like we've been talking about all show long.

There's also pregnant women, about 1 million of them, that have also impacted by this flood -- 500,000 of them are due to give birth within the next several months.

This has been a flood that has effected a generation. It's one thing that we've seen. We've seen that it's a terrible problem, but it's also a fixable one. I hope you have seen some of those solutions emerge today.

I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. If you want to catch any more of this program, you can go to CNN.com/podcasting.

Remember, we're going to try and answer your questions. We're going to stay in Pakistan and continue to bring the very latest from here.

Right now, stay tuned for more news on CNN.