Islamabad [Pakistan]: Even as it faces the fury of large-scale floods, Pakistan is confronted by another severe challenge as malaria cases have begun to achieve unprecedented proportions with some suggesting that the country should look towards India for remedial measures.
Senior Pakistani journalist Ghulam Abbas Shah, in fact, claimed that Pakistan’s ministry of health has sought permission to import 71 lakh mosquito nets from India to control the malaria outbreak.
The grim health situation in Pakistan has resulted in a high demand for mosquito nets.
“After the spread of malaria in #Pakistan, the Ministry of Health asked the government of Pakistan for permission to buy mosquito nets from #India. There is an urgent need for 71 lakh mosquito nets in 26 districts of Pakistan. #FloodsInPakistan,” tweeted Ghulam Abbas Shah, a senior broadcast journalist.
He claimed that in the flood-affected Sindh and Balochistan, two lakh people have been infected with malaria in the last two months, in which 22 per cent of the cases are of Plasmodium falciparum type.
Skin infections, diarrhoea and malaria are rampant in parts of Pakistan’s flood-ravaged regions, killing 324 people, authorities said on Wednesday, as the country’s prime minister said it was going through one of the “toughest times,” reported Geo News.
Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the floods are living in the open, and as floodwaters — spread over hundreds of kilometres — may take two to six months to recede, stagnant waters have led to severe health issues.
With Pakistan’s already weak health system and lack of support, displaced families have complained of being forced to drink and cook with disease-ridden water.
Authorities have also warned that the situation may get out of control if required aid doesn’t arrive, reported Geo News.
“We know it can sicken us, but what to do, we have to drink it to stay alive,” flood victim Ghulam Rasool told local Geo News TV as he stood near where his home was washed away in southern Pakistan.
According to media reports, officials are warning they now risk losing control of the spread of infections in a dire situation that the World Health Organisation (WHO) described as “utterly heartbreaking”.
On Wednesday, the southern Sindh provincial government said makeshift health facilities and mobile camps in the flooded areas had treated more than 78,000 patients in the last 24 hours, and more than 2 million since July 1. Out of them, six died, it said.
Deaths from diseases aren’t among the 1,569 people killed in flash floods, including 555 children and 320 women, the country’s disaster management agency said on Wednesday.
The deluge has affected nearly 33 million people in the South Asian nation of 220 million, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock in damages estimated at USD 30 billion, according to media reports.