Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Malaria threatens 2 million in Pakistan as floodwaters turn stagnant

Pools of standing water in southern Sindh province potentially home to disease-carrying mosquitoes that breed and hatch

Declan Walsh in Islamabad, The Guardian, Oct 3, 2010

Pakistani children after the floods
More than 250,000 cases of suspected malaria, including some of the fatal falciparum strain, have been reported, according to the WHO. Photograph: Declan Walsh for the Guardian

More than 2m cases of malaria are expected in Pakistan in the coming months in the wake of the country’s devastating floods, aid workers have warned.

Two months into the crisis, large areas remain submerged in southern Sindh province, creating stagnant pools of standing water that, combined with the heat, are powerful incubators of a disease spread by mosquitoes that breed and hatch in the pools.

More than 250,000 cases of suspected malaria, including some of the fatal falciparum strain, have been reported, according to the World Health Organisation.

Aid agency Plan International worries the figure will surpass 2m. “The most vulnerable are women and children,” said its Pakistan director, Haider Yaqub.

The malaria threat is part of a wider health emergency, with more than 20 million people affected by the floods struggling to cope as the winter approaches.

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