Floods in Pakistan threaten serious health crisis
Sukkur (Pakistan) (AFP) – At a charity clinic in a village in southern Pakistan, dozens of people affected by the relentless rains and floods crowd around the door as they wait to speak to a volunteer doctor.
The village of Bhambro is in a poor district of Sindh province, hard hit by record floods which destroyed more than a million homes and damaged critical infrastructure including health facilities across the country.
Bhambro is surrounded by vast tracts of flooded farmland, its streets full of mud and littered with debris and manure – conditions conducive to outbreaks of malaria, cholera and skin diseases such as scabies.
“Skin diseases are the main problem here because of dirty, stagnant water and unsanitary conditions,” said Sajjad Memon, one of the doctors at the clinic, which is run by the charity Alkhidmat Foundation. .
He used his mobile phone’s flashlight to examine the patients, most of whom were reporting scabs and rashes on Tuesday.
Many had come to the clinic walking barefoot through dirty water and mud.
“My child’s foot is burning with pain. My feet too,” said Azra Bhambro, a 23-year-old woman who had come to the clinic for help.
Abdul Aziz, a doctor in charge of Alkhidmat clinics in the region, told AFP that cases of scabies and fungal infections were on the rise.
According to the World Health Organization, outbreaks of scabies are common in crowded places with tropical conditions – such as relief camps and shelters – and can lead to severe itching and rashes.
Memon told AFP that many patients at the clinic could not afford to buy shoes.
Major health hazards
The millions of people affected by the floods face major health risks, including life-threatening diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, the WHO warned in a statement on Tuesday.
Sindh province in southern Pakistan has been particularly affected, with large swathes of land under water and many villagers forced to travel to major cities for shelter, food aid and medical assistance. .
The health threat is even greater in areas like Bhambro, where health services were already limited, and for the tens of thousands of people taking refuge in overcrowded relief camps.
“The ongoing disease outbreaks in Pakistan, including acute watery diarrhoea, dengue, malaria, polio and Covid-19, are further escalating, especially in camps and where water and sanitation facilities sanitation have been damaged,” the WHO said.
© 2022 AFP