The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday it was concerned that many children across Bangladesh remain vulnerable to the threat of disease a week after Cyclone Sidr struck the country.
"The cyclone has predisposed thousands of children and women tothe increased risk of illness and death due to malnutrition," said Dr. Iyorlumun Uhaa, a UNICEF health and nutrition official, in a statement.
"Of the estimated 5 million people affected, half are children and one eighth or 600,000 are under the age of five," she said.
"The cold weather and vulnerability to cold, hunger, trauma, diarrhea and other communicable diseases will increase many times over unless urgent life-saving assistance is provided to children and women immediately."
While relief operations led by the government, with the support of the U.N. and NGOs are at full tilt and most parts of the country have been reached, other critical issues remain for children, UNICEF said.
Water supply in the coastal areas in Bangladesh has been contaminated with saline water and debris presenting a major technical challenge in providing alternative sources rapidly.
In addition, most household sanitation facilities in the country have been either damaged or destroyed. Without access to clean water and sanitation children are especially at risk of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases which can be life-threatening.