Pak floods: Fears of more deaths amid outbreak of waterborne diseases

The flow of funds and aid to flood-hit areas in Pakistan is failing to keep pace with the needs of millions of victims of the deluge, giving rise to fears about more deaths due to lack of food and outbreak of waterborne diseases.

Islamabad: The flow of funds and aid to
flood-hit areas in Pakistan is failing to keep pace with the
needs of millions of victims of the deluge, giving rise to
fears about more deaths due to lack of food and outbreak of
waterborne diseases.

Two women died and 18 others were affected by an
outbreak of cholera and other waterborne diseases in the
Bajaur tribal region, officials said today.
Special teams were sent to Qazi village following the
reports of an outbreak of cholera. Health officials claimed
the situation was under control.

There were fresh flood warnings in northwest Sindh,
close to the border with Balochistan, and several towns were
placed on high alert.

The swollen Indus river continued to inundate
villages as the flood waters travelled south.

Despite assurances from Pakistani leaders like Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik
about the transparent use of funds provided by the world
community, the UN has received a little more than half of the
USD 460 million needed for immediate relief efforts.

Malik sought to reassure international donors that
funds to help flood victims will not reach extremists.

The Taliban will not be allowed to take advantage of
the crisis to increase their support, he told the BBC.

He said he was aware of the danger that the Taliban
could increase their foothold in flood-hit areas by taking on
charitable roles and winning support from survivors.

Malik said this would not be allowed to happen and
blamed concerns about misuse of aid on internal "petty

However, main opposition PML-N chief and former
premier Nawaz Sharif said more international aid is not
flowing in because people want greater transparency from the

He has proposed the creation of an independent
commission to oversee the distribution of aid.

UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said 54 per cent of the
USD 460 million needed for an emergency response plan had been
raised after days of urging international donors.

However, he reiterated the UN?s warning about a
possible "second wave of deaths" if survivors did not get
food, clean water and healthcare.

Three weeks of unusually heavy monsoon rains triggered
flash floods in Khyber-Paktunkhwa, Punjab, Balochistan and
Sindh provinces, affecting 20 million people.
Over 1,700 people have died and the UN says more than
650,000 people are without basic shelter while six million
desperately need emergency aid. Tens of thousands of villages
are still under water.

The Meteorological Department today said no heavy
rains were forecast for this week though the Indus river was
still in "super flood" in Guddu and Sukkur regions of southern
Sindh province.

The discharge at two barrages in these areas was over
one million cusecs this morning, officials said.

Up to 3.5 million children are at high risk of
cholera and deadly diseases like typhoid and dysentery, said
UN spokesman Giuliano.

Pakistani health experts warned there could be a
malaria outbreak in the next 30 to 40 days in flood-affected
areas due to the breeding of mosquitoes in stagnant water.

They said health officials should immediately provide
mosquito nets to people living in flooded areas and begin
spraying DDT.

The experts said the most effective method to manage
diseases caused by mosquitoes is to control the vector at
larval stage by using chemicals and by environmental

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the
government was worried about half a million expectant mothers
among the flood victims and was making plans to help those who
would give birth soon.
"There are about 500,000 pregnant mothers and we plan
to move to or near hospitals those who are expected to deliver
within two weeks," he said.

Aid agencies and government officials stressed the
need for more funds and speedy provision of relief and
healthcare. The distribution of food and other supplies has
been hampered by damage to infrastructure, including roads and
bridges that have been washed away.

UNICEF?s regional director Daniel Toole said USD two
million are needed every day to provide water but this was
"not sustainable".

He added: "We don`t have two million dollars a day.

The devastation of crops and farmland has given rise
to fears of food insecurity.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Information Minister Mian
Iftikhar Hussain said there could be a famine if immediate
steps are not taken.

"The farmers have lost everything their crops,
their machines, their houses, their seeds," he said.


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