3.5 mn Pakistani children at risk of fatal diseases

August 17th, 2010 - 6:22 am ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Aug 17 (IANS) Nearly 3.5 million children in Pakistan’s flood-ravaged areas are at risk of contracting fatal diseases such as cholera and dysentery, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has warned.
Diseases like cholera and dysentery present the illnesses of greatest concern. Hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever pose another significant risk, the Unicef said in a statement Monday.

Stagnating water caused by floods, which becomes breeding ground for mosquitoes, further increasing the threat of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue, Xinhua cited the statement as saying.

According to Unicef, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is preparing a contingency plan to assist the Pakistani government to prevent major outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The WHO projects that up to 1.5 million cases of waterborne diseases (including up to 140,000 of cholera), 150,000 cases of measles, 350,000 cases of acute respiratory infections, and up to 100,000 cases of malaria can occur in the country over the next three months.

Unicef said it plans to provide clean water to six million people in flood-stricken area.

The head of water, sanitation and hygiene for Unicef in Islamabad, Omar El-Hattab, said assistance has been reaching one million people per day. “But more funds are urgently required in order to reach all those in need,” he added.

Meanwhile, 15 people were killed due to breakout of gastroenteritis disease Monday at a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan of Pakistan’s Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa province which has been severely hit by floods, hospital sources said.

The waterborne gastroenteritis killed several dozen people last week as more cases have also been reported across the country.

Over two weeks of heavy rains and floods have so far killed more than 1,400 people, displaced 20 million others and destroyed about 700,000 homes in Pakistan which is experiencing worst flood in its history.

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