Serious diarrhoea outbreaks hit quake survivors’ camps in Pakistan

Serious outbreaks of acute diarrhoea in areas devastated by Pakistan’s earthquake are highlighting the need for scaled up efforts to provide safe water and sanitation in makeshift camps and for more funding for the Government, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today.

“Although the laboratory diagnosis is not yet confirmed, these cases of acute watery diarrhoea should be taken extremely seriously. Prompt treatment by re-hydration is essential, and we continue to monitor the situation,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Khalif Bile said.

Diarrhoeal diseases are caused by bacteria getting into the potable water supply system, much of which has been damaged or destroyed by the 8 October quake, which killed at least 73,000 people, injured almost as many others, and left up to 3 million more homeless in northern Pakistan as the harsh Himalayan winter approaches.

With the establishment of self-settled camps by homeless communities, people are living in crowded conditions marked by unsafe water and poor sanitation. With insufficient latrines being dug, there is no provision for those affected by acute watery diarrhoea to use separate latrines. This results in further contamination of the drinking water supply.

International humanitarian aid has been directed at supporting better-managed camps with safe water and sanitation facilities, and the Camp Management cluster, led by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), is providing technical support to 18 planned camps set up by the Government, where around 10,000 people are now living.

A key priority by the end of November is also to improve the sanitation, water supply, and healthcare conditions in the self-settled camps.

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Jan Vandemoortele today stressed the need for more resources to help the Government, especially the Ministry of Health and Federal Relief Commission.

“We once more appeal for the required funding and resources to be made available now, so that we can support the Government of Pakistan in repairing the water supply, setting up adequate sanitation facilities and providing emergency healthcare to those affected,” he said.

UN agencies and other humanitarian actors are working closely with the Federal Relief Commission and the Pakistani military to train teams to visit all self-settled camps and assist with water, sanitation and hygiene education.

From United Nations

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