The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday airlifted medical supplies to Pakistan amid an evolving humanitarian crisis after floods in the country affected more than 33 million people.
Two shipments carrying much-needed emergency medical supplies and equipment arrived in Karachi.
The shipment was sent in response to critical shortages in the country. It contains 15.6 metric tons of cholera kits, water and multipurpose tents that can be used as medical tents.
The supplies, estimated at a total value of $174,816, were delivered to Pakistan with the support of the government of Dubai and the International Humanitarian City (IHC).
Read: A child's death highlights threat posed to young by floods
“The floods have severely impacted the lives of millions in Pakistan. We are currently working with the national authorities to ensure access to health care and medical supplies, mitigate the risk of disease outbreak, coordinate the response to ensure critical gaps are met, and prepare for any worsening of the situation over the coming weeks,” said Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan.
An air bridge linking the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan has been established by the government of Dubai and the IHC.
It is now fully operational with several rotations having already arrived in Pakistan to deliver critical humanitarian supplies in response to the recent extensive flooding.
Mahipala further said, “Thanks to the Government of Dubai, the International Humanitarian City and WHO’s logistic hub in Dubai, this critical shipment is arriving at an opportune time and will be immensely useful in helping to strengthen essential health services and control the spread of disease, especially in displaced persons camps lacking safe water and sanitary conditions.”
Read: US enhances Pakistan’s flood aid by $20 million
The scale of the humanitarian crisis in the flood-hit areas of Pakistan is unprecedented. Over 1 million houses damaged or destroyed, over 600,000 persons internally displaced in camps and over 1,460 health facilities damaged.
The health threats in flood-hit areas are enormous. Flood victims, especially women and children, are at an increased risk of diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, malaria, dengue fever, acute respiratory infections and typhoid. Cases of these diseases have already been reported in flood-affected areas.
Health experts have made a passionate appeal to the government and NGOs to send medical equipment and medicines to flood-stricken areas "immediately," warning that water-borne diseases may kill more people than done by rains and floods.
According to official figures, 496 of the 1,399 killed so far in the floods have been children. Some aid groups fear that they will now be particularly vulnerable to sickness likely to spread as waters begin to recede.