WHO warning

The country faces a post-floods health crisis

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has issued a statement warning that the flood affected may face a serious health crisis if attention is paid to it. The affectees have not just lost their possessions and their livelihoods, but also have to make do with inadequate food and shelter. Apart from dengue and diarrhea, such apparently vanquished diseases as cholera and malaria may well make a comeback. The last two in particular are potentially fatal, and can be devastating if they are allowed to reach epidemic proportions.

The key factor is the floods’ destruction of health facilities, and floodwaters’ damage to the supplies in the facilities that may have survived. That means that affectees suffering any of the suspected diseases will have nowhere to go. Another loss will be to those suffering from heart disease or diabetes, which requires monitoring and permanent medication. At least they have been diagnosed. There will be those who are suffering symptoms amid the floodwaters uncomplainingly, happy to have a covering above their heads. Children will not be vaccinated and expecting and neonatal mothers will not receive the check-ups or care they would get in routinely, let alone that needed because of the stress that they are undergoing.

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Apart from aid from abroad, the provincial governments, which are the largest employers of both doctors and paramedics, should not only constitute teams to go into the flood-hit areas, but also facilitate any doctor or paramedic seeking leave for volunteer work among the flood-hit. Pharmaceutical manufacturers must also be readied up production of anti-malarial and anti-cholera medication, which are cheap. The medical emergency facing the country is neither complex nor insurmountable. However, it is not the primary crisis, and it might be lost sight of. That would be tragic, because it would lead to many lives being lost.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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