By Kamran Chaudhry, Caritas Pakistan Communications Officer
Spreading waterborne diseases and pregnant women in relief camps are major concerns for Caritas Pakistan.
The World Health Organization has confirmed 99 cases of cholera and 300,000 suspected cases of malaria among displaced populations in the 62 flood-hit districts. Dengue fever has reportedly claimed 12 lives with 1,200 confirmed cases as flood waters recede in Pakistan.
“The health of children is at great risk due to outbreak of waterborne diseases especially cholera and dengue in the post-flood situation. Pregnant women deserve special attention as most of them are anemic and suffering from malnutrition”, said Dr Amjad Yaseen.
He was speaking at Oct. 28 medical camp organised by local unit of Caritas Pakistan Multan diocese at Basti Chanaawar, a village in Punjab province. Women, children and elderly appeared for the checkup as Caritas staff distributed hygiene kits, food and other items at an adjacent building.
Sitting on a charpoy (bed), Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan also blessed the sick and elderly. “The flood has overrun the walls of hatred and prejudice,” he said.
Skina Bibi, nine months pregnant, said. “We eat flatbread with red pepper nowadays. Our cotton crop is ruined and there is no prospect of income now. We cannot afford fruit.” Media reports say there are 500,000 new mothers are among millions of displaced people.
Dr Yaseen has been volunteering for Caritas as part of relief efforts for three months in Punjab.
“Dirty baby pacifiers [dummies] are compounding the problem. Most of the mothers affected by the floods are uneducated laborers. They don’t always listen to our directions. Also they are helpless due to unhealthy living conditions at the refugee camps”, he said.
Caritas Pakistan is presently providing medical services in three dioceses of Pakistan. To date, the local unit of Caritas Pakistan in Hyderabad diocese has distributed 2800 mosquito nets among flood affected families in Sindh, the worst hit province.