The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a warning that there could be a second disaster on the cards of disease and death as concerns mount over the spread of water-borne diseases among the flood-hit people in Sindh. This warning was issued on Saturday by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as he urged donors to continue to respond generously to save lives and prevent more suffering.

The situation in Sindh has been a lot more severe with the province’s Manchhar Lake—the largest freshwater lake in the country—witnessing a surge in its water level in recent days as floodwaters from the north and hill torrents from Balochistan flow southwards. The water supply has been disrupted in flood-hit areas, leaving people no choice but to drink unsafe water which could cause cholera and other diseases. With the water not receding in so many parts of the province, the stagnant water serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and spreads vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.

According to reports, health centres have been flooded, their supplies have been damaged, and people have moved away from home which makes it harder for them to access their normal health services. Health workers in the country are being stretched to the limit as they are doing all they can to deliver critical services amid the destruction. About 90,398 patients have been treated during the last 24 hours, of which 17,919 had diarrhea, 19,746 had skin-related diseases, 695 had malaria and 388 had dengue.

A lot of pregnant women, particularly in Dadu, are at risk as they do not have the requisite medical attention and care that is required. It is also being reported that four to five children are being accommodated on a single bed due to the huge influx of patients. While we will be requiring a lot of external support in terms of supplies and medical professionals, it is imperative that the authorities urgently plan for dealing with this health crisis that is taking shape and threatening to escalate by the day. The residents in these areas have suffered enough for no fault of their own, and those that have survived are now vulnerable to contracting these diseases without the requisite medical infrastructure.