After floods, Pakistan now in the grip of deadly water-borne diseases

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Sep 21 (EFE).- Pakistan is on the brink of an impending second disaster as dengue fever outbreak and water-borne infections have claimed nearly 320 lives, following the deadliest flooding in decades that has killed some 1,600 people.

Experts have warned of a severe health crisis due to the spread of water-borne diseases in the worst-hit southern Sindh province.

The provincial health ministry said Sindh recorded more than 6,100 cases – more than half of them in September – of the mosquito-borne dengue disease.

The country has reported more than 15,000 dengue patients in the last nine months.

People affected by floods sit as they receive free ration distributed by Islamic Political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) in Larkana, Pakistan, 20 September 2022. EFE-EPA/WAQAR HUSSAIN

But Muhammed Wasif, a spokesperson at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, warned of more cases in the coming days until the rainy season ends in mid-November.

Sindh reported 353 dengue cases on Monday, the government data showed.

Malaria, another disease caused by mosquitoes, has also spread widely in the province.

Some 144,183 tested positive for malaria in 2022, Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said in a video message on Tuesday.

Authorities reported more than 1,300 malaria cases over the weekend.

“We are keeping a special eye on these two diseases (dengue and malaria) because they spread (due to) water and mosquitos,” she said.

Sindh health ministry spokesperson Mehar Khursheed told EFE that 318 people have died due to water-borne diseases in the province since July 1.

Pakistan has been battling a dengue fever epidemic in the monsoon season for the past 12 years.

But this summer, thousands suffered from other infections due to the stagnated flood water.

The health data showed more than 2.7 million patients got treated since July 1 in Sindh for dengue, malaria, diarrhea, and skin-related infections.

People affected by floods sit as they receive free ration distributed by Islamic Political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) in Larkana, Pakistan, 20 September 2022. EFE-EPA/WAQAR HUSSAIN

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has expressed concern about the potential second disaster in Pakistan due to deadly diseases following the flood catastrophe.

The death toll from the rains and floods has risen to 1,569, including 555 children and 320 women, since the monsoon season began on June 14.

The data does not include the deaths caused by the diseases.

The floods have caused an estimated $30 billion losses, besides triggering a health crisis.

The UN reported last week that it had received almost 24% of the $160 million sought in a donation for Pakistan. EFE

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