KARACHI: Water-borne diseases due to stagnant water due to monster monsoon could get out of control as people have no access to medication that is causing a rise in death toll.
At least nine more people have died due to water-borne diseases in flood-hit areas, the health officials iof Sindh said when Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie made a surprise visit to Sindh to meet people affected by the worst monsoon rain that caused devastating flood.
The monster monsoon dumped around three times as much rain on Pakistan than on average in recent weeks, causing major flooding that killed 1,559 people, including 551 children and 318 women, according to the disaster management agency.
Officials are warning they now risk losing control of the spread of infections in a dire situation that UNICEF described as “beyond bleak”.
Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the floods are living in the open and as flood waters spread over hundreds of kilometres (miles) start to recede – which officials say may take two to six months – stagnant waters have led to diseases like malaria, dengue fever, skin and eye infections and acute diarrhoea.
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, arrived in Pakistan and visited communities affected by flooding in Dadu district, one of the worst-hit areas in southern Pakistan.
She met with several women who were now living in tents, according to international aid organization IRC, which is facilitating the visit. They described their struggles and told her they needed food, water and medical attention.
Jolie, who has dedicated herself to international humanitarian causes for more than a decade, also visited Pakistan after deadly flooding in 2010.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the surge in diseases has the potential for a “second disaster”.
In Sindh, the region worst hit by the floods, the provincial government said nine people had died of gastroenteritis, acute diarrhoea and suspected malaria on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths from diseases to 318 since July 1.
Over 2.7 million people have been treated for water-borne diseases at makeshift or mobile hospitals set up in flood-hit regions since July 1, it said, with 72,000 people treated at these facilities on Monday alone.
Three other provinces have also reported thousands of disease cases.
The influx has overwhelmed Pakistan’s already weak health system. Sindh provincial government has said that over 1,200 medical facilities were still marooned in flood water.
Malaria and diarrhoea are spreading fast, said Moinuddin Siddique, director at the Abdullah Shah Institute of Health Sciences at Sehwan city, which is surrounded by the flood waters. “We’re overwhelmed”.