KARACHI: Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho on Sunday said that almost 47,000 displaced pregnant women from flood-hit areas in Sindh have been placed in relief camps across the province’s different areas.
The provincial health minister stressed on the need for medical supplies following the flood-induced devastation in Sindh.
Pechuho, in an interview with DawnNewsTV, said that over 134,000 cases of diarrhoea and 44,000 cases of malaria have been reported in the province.
Following the catastrophe, the health minister said that flooded areas are now confronted with disease outbreaks due to stagnant flood water and lack of hygiene.
Flood-hit areas gripped by waterborne infections
It is important to mention here that following the unprecedented deadly floods triggered by monsoon rains more than 500% above average levels, the affected people are now facing outbreaks of diarrhoea, dengue, skin diseases, and other waterborne infections across the country, say health officials.
Many flood victims, including women and children, are complaining of psychological distress after losing their homes, loved ones and livelihoods, the officials added.
Public and private health officials said diarrhoea, cholera and other waterborne diseases had started killing both adults and children in the flooded areas in different districts of Sindh, Balochistan and southern Punjab, while people had also started losing lives due to malaria, but no accurate figures were being provided by the health officials.
“As many as 17,242 people, including men, women and children, were treated for skin infections at 442 fixed and mobile camps in Sindh. Diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid and dysentery are the second most common diseases among flood affectees followed by respiratory infections. Around 14,869 cases of waterborne diseases and 13,326 cases of respiratory illnesses were treated on Friday at 442 medical camps, established by the Sindh health department,” an official of the Directorate General of Health Sindh told The News.
‘0.6 million pregnant women need healthcare services’
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stressed the need for providing healthcare facilities to almost 650,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas in Pakistan.
In a statement, the UNFPA said that it estimated that almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth.
“Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support,” says the UN agency.
In addition to this, many women and girls are at an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as almost 1 million houses have been damaged.
Of the 6.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance following the monsoon rains, floods, and landslides in Pakistan, more than 1.6 million are women of childbearing age, said the UNFPA.
The Pakistan government, however, estimates that around 33 million people across the country are affected, including an estimated 8.2 million women of reproductive age.
‘Pregnancies can’t wait for emergencies to be over’
“Pregnancies and childbirth can’t wait for emergencies or natural disasters to be over. This is when a woman and baby are vulnerable and need the most care. UNFPA is on the ground, working with partners, to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers continue receiving life-saving services even under the most challenging conditions,” says UNFPA Pakistan Representative Dr Bakhtior Kadirov.
More than 1,000 health facilities are either partially or fully damaged in Sindh province, whereas 198 health facilities are damaged in affected districts in Balochistan, Kadirov said, adding that the damage to roads and bridges has also compromised girls’ and women’s access to health facilities.
“We will continue supporting health facilities with the equipment and human resources to be fully operational despite the challenging humanitarian conditions,” Kadirov added.
The official maintained that the UNFPA is scaling up its emergency response to provide life-saving reproductive health services and commodities, including dignity kits, for women and girls.
UNFPA Pakistan has, so far, procured 8,311 dignity kits, 7,411 Newborn Baby Kits, and 6,412 Clean Delivery Kits for immediate delivery to Sindh, Balochistan, KP, and Punjab, Kadirov added.