Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Disease risk for millions of Pakistani children

Al Jazeera, Aug 16, 2010

Millions of children in Pakistan are at high risk from deadly water-borne diseases in the wake of the country’s worst flooding in living memory, the UN has warned.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been placed on standby to deal with a potential cholera outbreak following warnings from medical experts of “a second wave of death” in the disaster zone.

“WHO is preparing to assist up to 140,000 people in case there is any cholera, but the government has not notified us of any confirmed case,” Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said on Monday.

“Up to 3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases including diarrhoea-related, such as watery diarrhoea and dysentery,” he said, estimating the total number at risk from such diseases to be around six million.

OCHA said figures for how many people may have already died from disease following the floods were not available, but insisted work was being done to assess the situation.

“The mortality caused by the incidence of these diseases is increasing. We don’t have figures at this moment, but WHO is working round the clock in support for the government to come up with numbers,” he said.

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