After the flood

September 25, 2022

UNICEF reports suggest that as many as 3.4 million children are in need of immediate, lifesaving support

After the flood


s flood waters recede, the flood-affected people are at the mercy of various diseases.

According to the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC), so far 147 relief camps and 218 relief collection points have been set up in Sindh, southern Punjab and Balochistan. More than 300 medical camps have also been established, where 560,802 patients have been treated so far.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said last week waterborne diseases due to stagnant flood water cold become a “second disaster” to hit the displaced people. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern on this situation and assured maximum cooperation with Pakistani authorities to save the health of millions of poor people.

Meanwhile, UNICEF reports suggest that as many as 3.4 million children are in need of immediate, lifesaving support. Many more children would die in the absence of the proposed intervention, the UNCEF fears. It has termed the situation for flood affected Pakistani families “beyond bleak”.

Several national and international organisations have been warning local authorities of the health crisis that can cause further malnourishment in already poor families; diarrhea; skin and eye infections; leptospirosis; malaria; leishmaniasis; respiratory infections and hepatitis, ear, nose and tonsils infections.

Over 33 million people of the country have been affected by the floods in 81 districts, almost a third of the country. Reports from various areas show rising number of deaths due to waterborne diseases among the flood victims residing in camps.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) secretary general Dr Qaisar Sajjad says diseases are rapidly spreading in the flood hit-areas. “Our teams have observed that gastro, ENT diseases and malaria in these zones, especially in Sindh. There are also skin related issues.”

“However, the biggest issue is to quickly adopt preventive measures on a large scale and provide plenty of medicines and filtered water. According to our reports, there is an acute shortage of safe drinking water and medicines. There is no fumigation in large areas, particularly, remote areas. In the absence of medicines malaria can turn into cerebral malaria, with dangerous complications,” he says.

Dr Sajjad says at the moment there are two major concerns. These can be addressed by the governments but require special attention. “There is a need to tackle waterborne diseases and control malaria. This is doable once people are provided clean drinking water. The second is fumigation to control mosquitos.”

“Governments and non-government sector should focus on providing medicines, clean drinking water and nets to protect from mosquitoes,” he says. “This is doable. Unfortunately, we have not seen these things being taken up as a priority yet. “We have to save these lives first. This cannot wait for water to recede. Saving human lives should be the top priority,” he says.

The capacity of the government to provide preventive health services on a large scale in the underdeveloped areas is limited by administrative hurdles.

A recent study by Pakistani doctors, Infectious Diseases in the Aftermath of Monsoon Flooding in Pakistan, available with National Library of Medicine, states that despite great advances in medicine over the past few decades, medical complications arising from natural disasters are still extremely common. These are particularly problematic for developing countries like Pakistan where resources are limited and the infrastructure weak.

“The recent floods that have inundated vast portions of the country have only served to highlight the inadequacies of the health system. With public health spending currently standing at 2 percent of the country’s GDP, it is obvious that more can be done in order to protect those affected by these disasters. Unfortunately, awareness of the conditions is lacking in the general population. It is, therefore, imperative that the issue is promptly addressed in order to prevent a repeat of the humanitarian crisis,” the report states.

The author is a staff reporter. He can be reached at

After the flood