WHO warns of ‘second disaster’ in Pakistan as fear of death, disease grows

  • Health workers in the country stretched to the limit, WHO official says
Published September 18, 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm about a “second disaster” in the wake of deadly floods in Pakistan in the form of a new wave of diseases and deaths.

“I am deeply concerned about the potential for a second disaster in Pakistan: a wave of disease and death following this catastrophe, linked to climate change, that has severely impacted vital health systems leaving millions vulnerable,” WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Saturday.

PM urges global aid agencies to come forward

“The water supply is disrupted, forcing people to drink unsafe water,” he said. “But if we act quickly to protect health and deliver essential health services, we can significantly reduce the impact of this impending crisis.”

The WHO official also warned health workers in Pakistan were stretched to the limit as they were doing all they can to deliver critical services amid the destruction.

"Nearly 2,000 health facilities have been fully or partially damaged,” he maintained.

Alarming rise in waterborne diseases

Waterborne diseases have broken out in a big way across Pakistan as flood-hit areas are now facing not just the spread of malaria and dengue but also that gastro, diarrhoea, and skin diseases owing to the stagnant rainwater.

As per information gathered by Business Recorder from other parts of the country, the stagnant floodwaters have created an epidemic-like situation as waterborne diseases are rapidly increasing in flood-affected areas, especially among children, as two girls died of gastroenteritis in Sindh's Khairpur district, according to the Sindh Health Department, many children are suffering from gastroenteritis and malaria.

Sindh provincial health authorities have claimed over 1.2 million flood-affected people have been affected by diseases across Sindh, and 12,027 people have been affected by respiratory, asthma and chest diseases in 24 hours.

According to the health department, the cases of gastrointestinal, and respiratory diseases, dengue, malaria, and diarrhoea are continuously increasing.

Epidemic diseases are also increasing in the flood-affected areas of Punjab, respiratory diseases, fever, cholera, eye and rash diseases have increased manifold in the flood-affected areas. According to the report, 54,427 people are suffering from respiratory diseases, 42,283 people are affected by skin diseases, 24,446 people are suffering from cholera in the flood-affected areas of Punjab. Apart from this, 24,675 flood victims have been affected by fever and 3,039 people have been affected by eye diseases.

Skin diseases caused by people living in wet conditions are already being widely reported. Dermatological fungal infections grow best on wet or damp skin. As people make their way through floods, they expose large parts of their skin to the microbes that live within the water.

PM Shehbaz urges SCO to 'build a wall' against climate change

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif urged the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to “build a wall” against climate change.

Alarming rise in waterborne diseases reported

Addressing the SCO Council of Heads of State (CHS) meeting in Samarkand on Friday, the PM said flood devastation in Pakistan had displaced millions.

“It is catastrophic of proportions unknown to the people of Pakistan and of course the entire world,” the PM said.

“With your support, we will fight it out. These devastating floods in Pakistan are most definitely induced by climate change," he remarked.

Pakistan's unprecedented floods, which have submerged huge swathes of the South Asian nation, have killed more than 1,500 people, as authorities looked to step up relief efforts for millions affected by the disaster.

The floods brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern mountains have hit 33 million of a population of 220 million, sweeping away homes, transport, crops and livestock in damage estimated at $30 billion.

Pakistan received 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average, in July and August. That figure climbed to 466% for one of the worst-affected areas, the southern province of Sindh.


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