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September 28, 10

NEWS / Respiratory infections on rise in flood-ravaged Pakistan as weather cools

28 September 2010 Ė Acute respiratory infections are increasing among flood-hit communities in Pakistan as cooler weather sets in, with nearly 90,000 people affected over the past week, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

Overall, nearly 487,000 people underwent medical treatment during the 18-24 September period in areas devastated by two months of rolling floods which, though they have killed fewer than 2,000 people, have exposed more than 20 million others to homelessness, malnutrition, risks of epidemics and loss of livelihood as the waters swept the country from north to south.

Earlier this month the UN and its partners launched their largest-ever natural disaster appeal, seeking more than $2 billion for what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the worst such disaster that the UN has faced.

During the latest reporting period, other main infections included nearly 65,000 cases of acute diarrhoea and over 6,400 of bloody diarrhoea, almost 43,000 suspected malaria cases and more than 60,000 skin diseases, WHO said.

Since the crisis began at the end of July, 6.2 million people have been treated by government and humanitarian partner health facilities for a range of conditions, including nearly 832,000 cases of acute diarrhoea (13 per cent), over 58,000 cases of bloody diarrhoea (1 per cent), almost 964,000 acute respiratory infections (15 per cent), nearly 256,000 suspected malaria cases (4 per cent and over 1.1 million skin diseases (18 per cent).

Suspected malaria cases are increasing in number in Punjab and Balochistan provinces, while skin diseases are increasing in Sindh province.

WHO continues to deliver medicines to the more than 90 health partners within the health cluster network that can treat nearly 5 million people for a wide range of conditions, and an agency priority is to ensure that displaced people returning to their flood-affected villages have access to health-care services.

Currently 47 diarrhoea treatment centres are functional in flood-affected areas, and reviews are continuing on where to best situate them to meet the needs of affected communities. WHO is also supporting training of staff who at the centres and is providing medicines and other related hygiene and sanitation materials.




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