Pakistan deploys more doctors to fight disease after floods

Pakistan deploys more doctors to fight disease after floods

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan has deployed thousands of extra doctors and paramedics to the country’s worst-hit 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 were fired by the government, according to the provincial health department there. Flooding has killed 724 people, including 311 children and 133 women in the province since July.

Monsoon rains and floods, which many experts say are fueled by climate change, have affected 33 million people, killed at least 1,596 and damaged 2 million homes across Pakistan.

About half a million flood survivors are homeless, living in tents and makeshift structures.

Over 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 across Sindh province.

About 18,000 doctors and nearly 38,000 paramedics are treating survivors in the province, according to health department figures.

The floods have damaged more than 1,000 health facilities in Sindh, forcing survivors to travel to other areas to seek medical help.

Waterborne 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 of a “second disaster”, with doctors on the ground scrambling to fight outbreaks.

Some flooding in Pakistan has receded, but many areas in Sindh remain submerged and displaced people living in tents and makeshift camps face the threat of gastrointestinal infections, dengue and malaria, which are on the rise in relief camps.

The disaster has led the United Nations to consider sending more money than was pledged during its appeal for $160 million to support Pakistan’s flood response.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is in New York, will address the UN General Assembly on Friday to ask for more help from the international community.

On Wednesday, Julien Harneis, the UN coordinator in Pakistan, said: “The humanitarian situation remains dire in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan, with extensive damage to physical infrastructure and ongoing harm to people and animals.

Cases of diarrhea, typhus and malaria are rising rapidly, he said, as millions sleep in makeshift shelters or in the countryside near standing water.

Over 134,000 cases of diarrhea and 44,000 cases of malaria were reported in the worst-hit Sindh region last week.

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