Some 3.5 million children in Pakistan at risk of disease, UN warns

08:15, August 17, 2010      

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Members of a family fleeing flood waters board a truck while looking for higher grounds in Sukkur in Pakistan's Sindh province August 16, 2010. Pakistan authorities forecast on Monday a brief respite in rains that sparked the country's worst floods in decades, but aid agencies warned help was too slow to arrive for millions without clean water, food and homes. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The United Nations Children 's Fund (UNICEF) on Monday warned that close to 3.5 million children in the flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan are at risk of contracting fatal diseases carried through contaminated water and insects.

Various diarrheal diseases, which may in some cases be cholera - - and dysentery present the illnesses of greatest concern, stated UNICEF in a press release. Hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever pose another significant risk.

Meanwhile, stagnating water provides breeding ground for mosquitoes -- further increasing the threat of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.

According to UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing a contingency plan to assist the Pakistani government to prevent major outbreaks of infectious diseases.

As the worst-case scenario, the WHO projects that up to 1.5 million cases of diarrheal diseases (including up to 140,000 of cholera), 150,000 cases of measles, 350,000 cases of acute respiratory infections, and up to 100,000 cases of malaria can occur over the next three months.

UNICEF said it plans to provide clean water to six million people in Pakistan's flood-stricken area.

The head of water, sanitation and hygiene for UNICEF in Islamabad, Omar El-Hattab, said assistance has been reaching one million people per day. "But more funds are urgently required in order to reach all those in need," he added.

Source: Xinhua


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