Children and women affected by disease in Pakistan’s stagnant waters after floods

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  • Children and women will suffer more as diseases spread
  • 536 children among 1,508 killed
  • More than 90,000 patients treated in one day
  • Situation for families “beyond dark”
  • UNHCR says 3.4 million children need immediate life-saving assistance

KARACHI, Pakistan, September 16 (Reuters) – Children and women are increasingly vulnerable as tens of thousands suffer from infectious and waterborne diseases in flood-hit Pakistan, data from the government and UNICEF on Friday, as the total death toll from the flood exceeded 1,500.

As floodwaters begin to flow, which officials say can take two to six months in different areas, flooded areas have become plagued with diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, diarrhea and skin problems, the provincial government of southern Sindh said in a published report. Friday.

“Standing water is the root of waterborne diseases,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in his address to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

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“Children are getting malaria and diarrhoea…all kinds of diseases,” he said, adding that “millions of people are living in the open.” Women and children in poor health and/or malnourished are particularly vulnerable to all diseases.

The Sindh report says more than 90,000 people were treated on Thursday alone in the province, which was hardest hit by the cataclysmic floods.

It confirmed 588 cases of malaria with 10,604 other suspected cases, in addition to the 17,977 cases of diarrhea and 20,064 cases of skin diseases reported on Thursday. A total of 2.3 million patients have been treated since July 1 in field and mobile hospitals set up in the flooded region.

Record monsoon rains in southern and southwestern Pakistan and melting ice in northern regions have triggered floods that have affected nearly 33 million people in the South Asian country of 220 million people. residents, taking away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock with damage estimated at $30 billion. .

The losses will reduce the country’s GDP growth to around 3% from the estimated 5% target set in the budget at a time when it had narrowly escaped defaulting on its debt amid the crisis of the economy. balance of payments.

Pakistan was already reeling from the economic blows when the floods hit, its foreign exchange reserves falling to as low as a month of imports and its current account deficit widening.

The economy has yet to show a positive response to Islamabad’s resumption of an IMF program that had been delayed since the beginning of this year. The Pakistani rupee fell and inflation exceeded 27%.

The National Disaster Management Authority has reported 1,508 flood deaths so far, including 536 children and 308 women.

‘BEYOND WHITE’

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“I have been in flood affected areas for two days. The situation for the families is beyond grim and the stories I have heard paint a desperate picture,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Pakistan Representative.

“All of us on the ground are seeing malnourished children battling diarrhea and malaria, dengue and lots of painful skin conditions,” he said in a statement.

He said many mothers were themselves anemic and malnourished, and with very low birth weight babies who are exhausted or sick and unable to breastfeed.

Millions of families now live on little more than rags to shield themselves from the scorching sun as temperatures in some areas soar above 40 degrees Celsius, Fadil said.

UNHCR said around 16 million children have been affected and at least 3.4 million girls and boys still need immediate and life-saving support.

Young children living in the open are exposed to a wide range of new flood risks and hazards, Fadil said in his statement.

The torrential monsoon, which submerged huge swaths of Pakistan, was a century-old event likely made more intense by climate change, scientists said Thursday.

The country received 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, about 190% more than the 30-year average in July and August, a monsoon period that started early and extended beyond the usual timeline. Rainfall in the southern province of Sindh reached 466% of the average. Read more

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Writing and reporting by Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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