Severe flooding in Pakistan has left tens of thousands of people sick with infectious and water-borne diseases. Women and children in rural areas are especially vulnerable to such diseases, experts say.
Flood waters have begun to recede, or move away. But water may remain in places for two to six months. Stagnant water presents a serious risk to people living in the affected areas. Stagnant means water that is not flowing.
Diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and skin problems are spreading quickly. That information comes from a new report by the government of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Shrif recently spoke at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Uzebekistan. He said, “Stagnant water is giving rise to the water-borne diseases. Children getting malaria and diarrhea ... all kinds of diseases…millions of people are living under open sky.”
The floods have forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. Those people are now in desperate need of food, shelter, clean drinking water, toilets and medicine.
The flooding has affected 33 million people, 16 million of which are children. Over 3 million of those children need immediate life-saving support, the United Nations refugee agency says.
Since July 1, temporary medical centers set up in the flooded region have treated 2.3 million people.
There have been 1,508 deaths so far, including 536 children and 308 women, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority.
Abdullah Fadil is a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Pakistan. He said in a statement, “I have been in the flood-affected areas for the past two days. The situation for families is beyond bleak, and the stories I heard paint a desperate picture.”
Fadil confirmed that he had seen malnourished children and mothers with the diseases like diarrhea and malaria.
The flooding is considered a once-in-a-century event. It was likely made more severe by climate change, scientists said last week.
Extreme seasonal rains in the southern areas of Pakistan, combined with glacial melt caused by climate change in the northern areas, created the massive flooding.
Pakistan’s monsoon season this year started earlier than usual and ended later than usual. The country received 391 millimeters of rain during the monsoon period. That is 190 percent more than the 30-year average.
I’m Faith Pirlo.
Syed Raza Hassan and Asif Shahzad wrote this article for Reuters. Faith Pirlo adapted it for Learning English.
Words in This Story
vulnerable – adj. able to be hurt or at risk of being harmed
malnourished – adj. not eating enough food or not eating enough healthy food; poorly nourished
toilet – n. a large bowl attached to a pipe that is used for getting rid of bodily waste and then flushed with water
diarrhea - an illness that causes you to pass waste from your body very frequently and in liquid rather than solid form
glacial – adj. related to glaciers: frozen rivers of ice on mountains and in Arctic areas
bleak —adj. not hopeful or encouraging
monsoon– n. the rainy season in South and Southeast Asia
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