ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan has deployed thousands of additional doctors and paramedics in the country’s most flood-affected province to contain the spread of diseases that have killed more than 300 people among flood victims, officials said Friday.
Some of the doctors who refused to work in Sindh province have been fired by the government, according to the provincial health department. Floods have killed 724 people, including 311 children and 133 women in the province since July.
Monsoon rains and floods, which according to many experts are fueled by climate change, have affected 33 million people, caused at least 1,596 deaths and damaged 2 million homes across Pakistan.
About half a million flood survivors are homeless, living in makeshift tents and structures.
In the past two months, Pakistan has sent nearly 10,000 additional doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to serve survivors in health facilities and medical camps in Sindh province.
About 18,000 doctors and nearly 38,000 paramedics are treating survivors in the province, according to data from the health department.
The floods damaged more than 1,000 health facilities in Sindh, forcing survivors to travel to other areas to seek medical assistance.
Waterborne diseases and other diseases in the past two months have killed 334 flood victims.
The death toll prompted the World Health Organization last week to sound the alarm for a “second disaster”, with field doctors racing to fight epidemics.
Some floods in Pakistan have receded, but many districts in Sindh are still submerged and displaced people living in makeshift tents and camps face the threat of gastrointestinal infections, dengue fever and malaria, which are on the rise in relief camps.
The devastation led the United Nations to consider sending more money than it pledged during its flash appeal for $ 160 million to support Pakistan’s flood response.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is in New York, will speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday to ask for more help from the international community.
On Wednesday, Julien Harneis, the UN resident coordinator in Pakistan, said: “The humanitarian situation remains severe in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan, with widespread damage to physical infrastructure and continuing damage to people and livestock.
Outbreaks of diarrhea, typhus and malaria are increasing rapidly, he said, as millions of people sleep in temporary or outdoor shelters near standing water.
Over 134,000 cases of diarrhea and 44,000 cases of malaria were reported in the worst-affected area of Sindh last week.