ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan has deployed thousands of additional doctors and paramedics in 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 doctors who refused to work in Sindh province have been fired by the government, the provincial health department said. Since July, 724 people have been killed in the province, including 311 children and 133 women.
The monsoon rains and floods, which many experts believe are caused by climate change, have affected 33 million people, causing at least 1,596 deaths and damaged 2 million homes across Pakistan.
About half a million flood survivors are homeless, living in tents and makeshift structures.
In the past two months, Pakistan has sent nearly 10,000 additional doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to assist survivors in health facilities and medical camps in Sindh province.
According to health department data, about 18,000 doctors and nearly 38,000 paramedics treat survivors in the province.
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 have killed 334 flood victims in the past two months.
The death toll last week prompted the World Health Organization to sound the alarm of a “second disaster,” with doctors on the scene racing to fight outbreaks.
Some floods in Pakistan have subsided, but many districts in Sindh are still under water, and IDPs living in tents and makeshift camps face the threat of gastrointestinal infections, dengue fever and malaria, which are increasing in shelter camps.
The devastation has led the United Nations to consider sending more money than it pledged during its sudden appeal for $160 million to support Pakistan’s response to the floods.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is in New York, will speak at the UN General Assembly on Friday to seek more help from the international community.
Julien Harneis, the coordinator of the UN resident in Pakistan, said on Wednesday: “The humanitarian situation remains dire in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan, with widespread damage to physical infrastructure and ongoing damage to people and livestock.
Outbreaks of diarrhea, typhoid and malaria are increasing rapidly, he said, as millions of people sleep in temporary shelters or in the open near standing water.
More than 134,000 cases of diarrhea and 44,000 cases of malaria were reported in the worst affected area of Sindh in the past week.