ISLAMABAD    -   Following the unprecedent­ed floods caused by climate change, that have engulfed over 1,500 lives and sub­merged one-third of Pakistan, the World Health Organiza­tion expressed deep concerns about the potential for a “sec­ond disaster in Pakistan: a wave of diseases and deaths”.

In a statement, WHO Direc­tor General Dr Tedros Adha­nom Ghebreyesus said, “I am deeply concerned about the potential for a second disas­ter in Pakistan: a wave of dis­eases and deaths following this catastrophe linked to cli­mate change that has severely impacted vital health systems leaving millions vulnerable.”

In the statement, the WHO chief also urged donors to continue to respond gener­ously to “save lives and pre­vent more suffering”.

He maintained that water supply was disrupted, forcing people to drink unsafe water, which could spread cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases.

The WHO official said that stagnant water enabled mos­quitoes to breed and spread 

 vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. Health centres had been flooded, their supplies damaged and people had moved away from homes which made it harder for them to access their normal health services.

“All this means more unsafe births, more untreated diabe­tes or heart diseases, and more children missing vaccination, to name but a few of the impacts on health,” he said. “But if we act quickly to protect health and de­liver essential health services, we can significantly reduce the impact of this impending cri­sis. “Health workers in Pakistan are stretched to the limit as they do all they can to deliver criti­cal services amid the destruc­tion. Nearly 2,000 health facili­ties have been fully or partially damaged,” he maintained.

The Sindh health depart­ment, meanwhile, said a to­tal of 2.5 million patients had been treated at different med­ical camps across the province from July 1 to date. As many as 594,241 patients were treated for skin-related diseases, fol­lowed by diarrhoea (534,800), malaria (10,702), dengue (1,401), and other diseases (120,745,1), stated a report by the Sindh Directorate General Health Services.

The report also showed that 90,398 patients were treat­ed during the last 24 hours, of which 17,919 had diarrhoea, 19,746 had skin-related diseas­es, 695 had malaria and 388 had dengue. Around 92,797 citizens were treated in the province on September 15.

Speaking to private TV chan­nel, Dadu District Health Offi­cer (DHO) Dr Muhammad Ali Samejo said different diseases, mainly gastro and malaria, were being reported among the dis­trict’s flood-hit people.

Dr Irshad Memon, an officer at a medical camp in Dadu, said at least 18,289 pregnant wom­en had been screened from Aug 25 to Sep 17.

Dr Karim Mirani, who works for Dadu Civil Hospital, told TV cannel that the hospital had been flooded with patients due to rampant disease spread. “We are accommodating four to five children on a single bed due to the huge influx of patients,” he said. Floods from record mon­soon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33 million people and killed more than 1,540 since June 14, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damage estimated at $30 billion.

Both the government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Gu­terres have blamed climate change for the extreme weather that led to the flooding, which submerged nearly a third of the country.