Measures to restrict outbreak of diseases discussed

ISLAMABAD In the backdrop of flood situation posing a serious health challenge in the country, a meeting of the senior health officials and partner agencies, here on Wednesday, reviewed the situation and discussed the arrangements to deal with a possible outbreak of diseases. In this connection, Agha Nadeem, Additional Secretary Health, chaired the meeting which was also attended by the Federal DG Health, Prof Rashid Jooma, National Managers of key Public Health programs, representatives of the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, US Embassy, ICRC, GTZ and a host of other agencies working in the health sector. The meeting was told that so far the floods had affected 74 districts of the country including 19 from Punjab, 19 from Sindh, and 19 districts from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA whereas 6 districts have been affected in Balochistan, 7 in AJK and 4 in Gilgit-Baltistan. Dr Jahanzeb Aurakzai, head of the National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Cell of the Ministry of Health, informed the meeting that so far 150,000 square kilometres area had been affected hitting a population of over 14 million people. 8 Million people and 3,000 villages alone are affected in Punjab, 5 Million people and over 2,600 villages have been affected in Khyber-Pakhtunkwa. So far the floods have caused 1500 death casualties. However, the meeting was told that this was an evolving situation and a moving disaster far bigger in magnitude than the 2005 earthquake which was localised to a certain area. The meeting was also informed that although medicines had been rushed to the provinces responding to their demands, their further distribution to the affected areas was a big challenge as access to those areas was difficult. The ICRC informed that as bridges had caved in and roads had been washed away in many areas, medical supplies were being provided to the affectees on camels and donkeys. Director General Health Prof Rasheed Jooma informed that all National Health Programs had been activated and energised to meet the situation. Vaccination activities have been initiated in the affected areas to avert spread of disease. So far 500,000 children in the affected areas have been administered polio vaccine as the disease can spread fast in the obtaining situation. Alongside measles vaccine is being administered in camps and affected areas as the disease could spread at rapid pace. Dr Farooq Akhtar of the Mother and Child Health Program informed that 100,000 deliveries were going to take place in the affected areas in the next 6 months. He said there was need to set up birthing stations in 17 worst-hit districts as all health facilities and birthing stations had been destroyed. Dr Farooq appealed for support from the donor community in this regard. The meeting was informed that malaria outbreak was expected in the next 30 to 40 days and mosquito nets and coils along with DDT were urgently required.

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