The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of the “potential for a second disaster” as a result of “a wave of disease and death” following the devastating floods that have hit Pakistan over the past two months, leaving more than 1,500 dead.
“I am deeply concerned about the potential for a second disaster in Pakistan: a wave of disease and death in the wake of this catastrophe, linked to climate change, which has severely impacted health systems and left millions vulnerable,” said the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Thus, he stressed that “water supply has been disrupted, forcing people to drink unsafe water, which can spread cholera and other diarrheal diseases.” “Stagnant water allows mosquitoes to breed and spread diseases such as malaria and dengue fever,” he explained.
“Health centers have been flooded, their supplies damaged and people have fled their homes, making it more difficult for them to access their usual health services,” Tedros said, adding that “this means more unsafe deliveries, more untreated diabetes or coronary heart disease and more children skipping their vaccinations, to name a few health impacts.”
In this regard, he emphasized that “by acting quickly to protect health and deliver essential health services, the impact of this impending crisis can be significantly reduced” and noted that “Pakistan’s health workers are on edge and doing their best to deliver critical services amidst the destruction.”
Tedros detailed that “about 2,000 medical facilities have been totally or partially destroyed” and noted that the WHO is collaborating with the Pakistani government, the UN and NGOs to “help establish temporary health facilities” and “send medicines to other health centers.”
“We are increasing disease surveillance so that outbreaks can be detected early and people can get the treatment they need,” he said, before noting that “the government and partners are delivering clean water and access to toilets to reduce the risks of disease from contaminated water.”
In this line, he recalled that the WHO “immediately released ten million dollars (about ten million euros) from its emergency fund and thanked donors for their “rapid response” to the appeal for funding to respond to this crisis.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres last week called for “massive support” from the international community to help Pakistan, which he described as a “climate catastrophe.” Days earlier, he had denounced the existence of a “war against nature” in the face of severe flooding.