WHO Raises Alarm on Disease in Flood-Hit Areas of Pakistan

In the wake of Pakistan’s disastrous floods this summer, the World Health Organization issued a warning on Saturday about a “second calamity,” as medical professionals on the ground struggle to contain outbreaks of waterborne and other diseases. In the worst-hit provinces, the floodwaters began to recede this week, but many of the displaced people are now living in tents and improvised camps, where they are increasingly at risk from rising dengue fever, malaria, and gastrointestinal diseases. Mosquito breeding sites have emerged in the filthy, still waterways.

Since mid-June, Pakistan has seen record monsoon rains that many experts attribute to climate change. These rains and associated flooding have claimed 1,545 lives, swamped millions of acres of land, and impacted 33 million people.

The head of the WHO also noted that approximately 2,000 medical facilities in Pakistan had suffered full or partial damage and urged donors to keep giving generously so that more lives may be saved.

Shahbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, left for New York on Saturday to take part in the first U.N. General Assembly summit of world leaders to be held in person since the coronavirus outbreak. Sharif will make a call for further assistance from the global community to deal with the catastrophe.

Before leaving, Sharif asked charitable givers and humanitarian organisations to provide flood victims with baby food for infants, as well as blankets, clothing, and other food items, stating that they were in critical need of assistance.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, floods have destroyed about 400 bridges, washed away nearly 1.8 million dwellings, and damaged 1.8 million homes nationwide.

Nearly 70% of the 300 persons tested daily for malaria in Dera Allah Yar, Baluchistan, according to Imran Baluch, director of a government-run district hospital in Jafferabad.

Typhoid fever and skin infections, followed by malaria, are the most typical illnesses among displaced people who spend weeks in unclean conditions, Baluch told The Associated Press.

In the Jhuddo region of Sindh, a field clinic run by the Dua Foundation charity saw 600 patients, largely women and children suffering from gastrointestinal diseases, scabies, malaria, or dengue, according to paediatrician Sultan Mustafa.

Khalid Mushtaq, who is in charge of a group of medical professionals from the Alkhidmat Foundation and the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, claimed that they treat more than 2,000 patients every day in addition to giving away kits that include a month’s worth of water-purification tablets, soap, and other supplies.

According to Abdullah Fadil, the U.N. children’s agency’s representative in Pakistan, who visited Sindh’s flood-affected areas on Friday, an estimated 16 million children were affected by the floods. He said that UNICEF was making every effort “to support the affected children and families and safeguard them from the continued risks of water-borne infections.”


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