Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and a WHO delegation, led by its Executive Director Health Emergency Programme Dr Michael Ryan, discussed at a meeting on Thursday the flood situation, urgent needs and emerging public health threats and decided to work together to prevent waterborne diseases.
The meeting, which was held at the CM House, was attended by WHO Head of Mission in Pakistan Dr Palitha Mahipala, Director HQ Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director Dr Richard Brendan, Senior Emergency Officer Robert Holden, Incident Manager Dr Micheal Lukwiya, Communication Officer Muneera Al Mahdi, WHO Head of Sub-Office Sindh Dr Sara Salman, and Team Leader Polio Programme Dr Asif Ali Zardari. The chief minister was assisted by Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Secretary Health Zulfiqar Shah and Secretary to CM Raheem Shaikh.
WHO emergency programme head Dr. Michael told the chief minister that the WHO Mission had taken an aerial view of the flooded area and visited calamity-hit districts in the province to assess the needs on the ground.
Shah said the unprecedented rains and hill torrents inundated 18.8 per cent or 12,541.6 square kilometres of the total populated areas of the province, and as a result, 7.2 million people were displaced. He added that in 2,782 relief camps set up all over the province around 400,000 people were accommodated.
Dr Rayan and Dr Mahipala commended the Sindh government’s efforts for rescue and relief and put emphasis on more coordinated efforts between partners and local NGOs with health and district management.
The chief minister said that 410 medical camps, including mobile camps, had been established with a workforce of 600 doctors, 1125 paramedics and 350 volunteers.
The CM and the WHO Mission discussed the scale of devastation and magnitude of the emerging health and nutrition crisis. The meeting decided to take concrete measures for the health protection of the flood victims, provision of shelter, food and safe drinking water, and reach each and every one in need.
CM Shah said that in September alone 96,658 cases of diarrhoea among children below five years have been treated. Similarly, 16,701 cases of dysentery and eight cases of cholera among the children have been treated.
Talking about malaria, Shah said that the provincial health department screened 20,623 patients on September 28, of them 2,942 malaria cases were detected, including 1,960 in Hyderabad Division, 1,375 Larkana, 989 Mirpurkhas, 354 Sukkur, 148 Shaheed Benazirabad and 116 Karachi.
He added that 3,869 patients were screened, and 6,603 of them were detected as dengue positive. At this, Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that 9,172 cases of dengue had been detected in 2022.
The health minister, talking about maternal health, said that 9,829 pregnant women were living in the camps, and 9,010 had been given dietary supplements, 7,897 women received Tetanus Toxoids (TT) and Tetanus-Diphtheria (TD), and 3,756 deliveries had been conducted.
WHO Dr Rayan added that the threat of an increase in mortality was due to water and vector-borne disease outbreaks. Talking about malnutrition and pregnant ladies, the delegates discussed immediate actions.
WHO extended full cooperation in establishing coordination and support on the provision of safe drinking water, robust disease surveillance and response system, strengthening health services, provision of medicines and supplies, addressing malnutrition and access to health services
WHO has established four emergency operations centres in Sindh to respond to flood emergencies and to work closely with the health department and district administration
WHO is supporting the Sindh government in the establishment of 50 nutrition stabilisation centres, strengthening the health system through the provision of essential health services and refurbishment/ renovation of health facilities.
WHO had handed over 12 boats and 27 vehicles for outreach health services, provision of aqua tablets, and water purification plants in Dadu and Kambar-Shahdadkot.
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