WHO urges donors to speed up relief for affectees

ISLAMABAD - In the backdrop of the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan, the World Health Organistion (WHO) has urged all donor partners to intensify efforts to provide the resources needed to deliver emergency health and humanitarian assistance to the flood-affected communities. According to UN estimates, some 20 million people have been affected by in this crisis, 7 million of whom need direct life-saving humanitarian assistance. WHO and Health Cluster partners are seeking $56 million to fund emergency health projects, but just one-quarter has been pledged or committed to date. The health impact of the emergency is immense. More than 200 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, reducing the level of available health care for survivors. Waterborne, airborne and vector-borne diseases, including acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), measles, malaria and acute respiratory infections (ARI) are imminent threats due to the poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding, bad hygiene and breakage in waterlines. Initial reports from the field already indicate a significant rise in the caseloads of acute water diarrhoea, skin infections, malaria and ARI. WHO has so far provided essential medicines for more than 2 million persons and is assessing the health status of the vulnerable populations - particularly women and the elderly - and helping raise needed humanitarian funding. WHO has strengthened its surveillance system in flood-affected areas of Pakistan and leads the coordination of health partners in scaling up service delivery to the affected population. Surveying the damage in the flood-affected areas, Dr Abdallah Assaedi, Deputy Regional Director of WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, said: We must accelerate our efforts as have not yet seen the full extent and magnitude of this disaster affecting the people of Pakistan. According to WHO, the depth of suffering is incalculable as risks escalate of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection, malaria, and other communicable diseases. It is crucial that all humanitarian health providers, local and national, coordinate their relief efforts closely to save lives, reduce sufferings and deliver the most effective response. Dr Abdallah pledged WHOs full technical support to respond to the demands of this evolving crisis and address the health needs and demands.

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