The World Health Organization (WHO) warned last week that Pakistan is facing a “second disaster” due to outbreaks as the country strives to recover from the deadly floods of the summer. The weak health care system of the country, combined with the use of unsafe water resources by displaced families triggered outbreaks in the country.
The Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay), active in Pakistan since floods claimed hundreds of lives, plans to expand its humanitarian assistance to health care centers. Anıl Kocabal, head of the Turkish charity’s delegation in Pakistan, says waterborne diseases were increasing in flood-hit areas. “We are planning to set up mobile health units in three regions and they will serve about 30,000 people. We will assign mobile health care teams consisting of doctors and nurses for first response before the transfer of patients to hospitals. We plan to realize these efforts within a week,” he said.
Kocabal also said that they were working on public access to clean water resources and planned to deliver water filtration systems to some 5,000 families in Pakistan.
Türkiye continuously sends help to Pakistan and on Thursday, sent two more "Kindness Trains" loaded with humanitarian aid. They were the eighth and ninth trains and carry 1,040 tons of disaster relief goods, including food and hygiene products,
Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by floods live in makeshift houses in rare dry areas as floodwaters still remain in most places. Floodwaters are the main source of diseases, from malaria, dengue fever to diarrhea and skin diseases. In some areas, hospitals are full of patients, forcing the displaced who took shelter in hospitals to relocate to schools in Karachi, the largest city of Sindh. Schools are the main areas for accommodation for thousands of people while volunteering health care workers attend to the ill.
Pakistan’s disaster agency says nearly 3 million people have undergone treatment in mobile hospitals set up in flood-hit areas since July 1. Elsewhere, families living in dry areas host the displaced in their homes in Karachi. Isha Gulistan says her 3-year-old daughter has been awaiting treatment for days due to a high fever. “Our house was flooded and we could salvage only a few pieces of our possessions and moved to a tent. My daughter got very sick. I brought her to the hospital in Karachi,” Gulistan, who hails from a village, says.
Gaffura Golbahar tends to her husband who fell ill with malaria and both took shelter at a school, among others embattled with diseases. “We had to leave our village and had nowhere to go. My husband lies ill with sickness for days. We don’t know what to do,” she lamented.
Media outlets say thousands of additional doctors and paramedics have been deployed in Sindh, the worst-hit province, to contain the spread of diseases. Unofficial reports say more than 300 people who were displaced by floods were killed by diseases. In Sindh, more than 700 people were killed in the floods. Overall, monsoon rains and flooding, aggravated by climate change, affected some 33 million people and killed more than 1,500 people. Some 2 million homes across Pakistan were also damaged in floods and some half a million people have been left homeless.
Pakistan deployed some 10,000 more health care workers to Sindh in the past months to address the needs of flood victims. About 18,000 doctors and nearly 38,000 paramedics are treating survivors in the province, according to data from the health department. The floods also damaged more than 1,000 health facilities in Sindh.
Some floodwaters in Pakistan have receded, but many districts in Sindh are still submerged.
The country is mostly depending on foreign assistance due to the massive scale of the catastrophe. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is in New York to attend United Nations General Assembly, seeks to rally the international community for more assistance. The country’s Foreign Ministry has announced that 123 flights carrying aid from abroad and United Nations agencies have arrived in Pakistan since the beginning of the floods. Humanitarian assistance includes tents, food items and bottled drinking water.