Pakistan, NGOs move to prevent spread of diseases in flood-hit areas

07:54, August 09, 2010      

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The Pakistani government, international and local health groups are stepping up efforts to prevent water-borne diseases from spreading in the country's flood- affected areas.

According to official statistics, over 14 million people including an estimated 1.4 million children across the country have been affected by the floods that have hit the country over the last couple of weeks. The flood-affected areas in the country include the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, central Punjab, southern Sindh province and the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Government officials said that medical teams have been dispatched to every district with adequate medicines. They have sprayed pesticides and dispersed lime in the affected areas. But people in the affected areas complained that they have not been given enough and proper medical care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says major health concerns at the moment are the control of water-borne diseases, including diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections, treating the injured, helping to ensure the quality of clean drinking water and ensuring public access to health facilities with the emphasis on increasing the number of female health workers.

"The people are in dire need of clean water to prevent diseases, " said Naeem Khan, a volunteer at a camp by charity "Al-Khidnat" at Nowshera, an affected district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mashaal Mehsud, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority said the government with the resources available is trying to prevent diseases among the affected children.

WHO says that the floods are placing the health of hundreds of thousands of people at risk, with a high threat of water-borne disease outbreaks and immense damage to health facilities. It says WHO is coordinating the response of health partners and supporting Pakistani authorities by sending medicines and related health supplies capable of treating more than 200,000 people to the affected areas in the northwest region of the country.

Ezat Khan, who was running a clinic at the flood-devastated Azakhel Afghan refugee camp in Nowshehra, told Xinhua that the affected children urgently need vaccination as the water in the camp is very dirty.

According to WHO, about 46 out of Pakistan's 135 districts have been affected by the flooding. At least 39 health facilities have been destroyed, resulting in a loss of tons of medicines. There is a tremendous need for more medical and related materials to treat people affected by the floods and children need to be immunized particularly against polio and measles, says WHO.

Source: Xinhua


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