Islamabad, Pakistan (BBN)- Waterborne diseases continue to pose great risk to millions of people affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan, the United Nations warned on Monday.
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the hardest-hit provinces, acute diarrhoea is the leading cause of illness and accounted for nearly one in five patient visits since the floods began.
The problem has also been reported in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh, the agency added.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that as many as 3.5 million children in affected areas may now be at risk of diseases carried through contaminated water and insects. UNICEF plans to provide clean water to 6 million people.
“The lack of clean water and the unavailability of medication, in the aftermath of these floods, is a deadly combination. When added to the poor living conditions and the lack of food, which contribute to vulnerability, the picture is gruesome,” Guido Sabatinelli, WHO’s representative in Pakistan said in a statement.
Acute respiratory tract infections and skin diseases are the other health problems among those affected, according to WHO. Malaria could also pose a major threat as mosquitoes breed in the stagnant flood water.
UN chief has already visited Pakistan at the weekend to demonstrate the support of the UN and the international community in the wake of what has been described at the country’s worst disaster in living memory, having claimed more than 1,200 lives and leaving at least 2.0 million homeless.
The government estimated that 20 million people have been affected by the floods. The UN and its partners plan to assist at least 8 million people who are in urgent need of life-saving shelter, food, clean water, and health care.
Based on a preliminary assessment of immediate needs, UN and non-UN humanitarian agencies have already requested $459.7 million through the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan, which was launched last week.
Donors have so far contributed or promised $125 million, or 27 per cent of the requested amount, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
BBN/SI/AD-17Aug10-11:45 am (BST)