Cholera hits Pakistan three months after the floods began

By agency reporter
26 Oct 2010

Three months after floods began in Pakistan, aid agencies are extremely concerned that 99 cases of cholera from across the flood-affected areas of the country have now been publicly confirmed for the first time.

The World Health Organisation has announced today (26 October 2010) that it was informed by the Pakistan Ministry of Health on 12 October that laboratory tests had shown there were people affected by the disease in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Severe diarrhoea has for some time been the most common health problem facing the more than 20 million people affected by the flooding. A lack of clean drinking water and unsanitary conditions enable cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases to spread with great rapidity.

UK Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley commented: “The scale and duration of the crisis in Pakistan is staggering. The human impact has in many cases been appalling and aid workers have struggled to support all those affected.

“Cholera is endemic in Pakistan but nonetheless the confirmation of these outbreaks across the country is extremely worrying, given the continuing vulnerability of so many flood survivors.

“The £63m so far donated to the DEC Pakistan Floods Appeal has already helped hundreds of thousands of people and will ensure 1.4 million survivors get help in the first six months following the start of the floods."

DEC members have been extremely active both in treating diarrhoeal diseases and in seeking to improve access to drinking water and ensure better hygiene amongst displaced communities.

Flash flooding began after intense monsoon rains in the mountains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in north west Pakistan around 26 July 2010. Over the coming weeks, the flooding spread down the Indus river system reaching the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh. Standing water is still a serious problem in parts of Sindh.

Although many displaced people are now returning to their home areas, they still require emergency shelter, remain vulnerable to potentially deadly diseases and need help to rebuild their lives. Winter is expected to begin in earnest in the mountains of north west Pakistan in the coming weeks.

Assistance provided using DEC funds over the first six months of the emergency includes:

· Clean water, toilets and hygiene support for 550,000 people.

· Healthcare for 359,000 people, including assistance for malnourished children, pregnant woman and the elderly.

· Household items for 240,000 people, including pots, blankets and water containers.

· Emergency shelter for 155,000 people - tarpaulins and tents.

· Food for 198,000 people.

· Livelihood support for 33,000 people.

The DEC consists of Action Aid, Age UK, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, and World Vision.

Examples of the work of specific DEC member agencies can be found at: http://www.dec.org.uk/item/442

To make a donation to the DEC Pakistan Floods Appeal call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900 or visit http://www.dec.org.uk

[Ekk/3]

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