WHO warns of ‘second disaster’ in flood-hit areas of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (INP): The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised alarm about a “second disaster” in flood-hit areas of Pakistan following the unprecedented floods, which killed over 1,500 people and submerged one-third of the country’s land.

“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 in a statement.

The WHO’s director-general maintained that water supply is disrupted, forcing people to drink unsafe water, which can spread cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases.

Tedros Adhanom further said that stagnant water enabled mosquitoes to breed and spread vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. Health centres had been flooded, their supplies damaged and people had moved away from homes which made it harder for them to access their normal health services.

“All this means more unsafe births, more untreated diabetes or heart diseases, and more children missing vaccination, to name but a few of the impacts on health,” he said, adding: “However, if we act quickly to protect health and deliver essential health services, we can significantly reduce the impact of this impending crisis.”

The WHO chief also pointed out that nearly 2,000 health facilities have been fully or partially damaged in Pakistan, urging the donors to continue to respond generously so that more lives can be saved.

The unprecedented monsoon rains since mid-June, which many experts link to climate change, and subsequent flooding have killed 1,545 people across Pakistan, inundated millions of acres of land and affected 33 million people. As many as 552 children have also been killed in the floods.

Nationwide, floods have damaged 1.8 million homes, washed away roads and destroyed nearly 400 bridges, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.