Disasters & Accidents

Pakistan ‘stretched to the limit’ by catastrophic floods

By Amjad Ali

Kashmore, Pakistan, Sep 1 (EFE).- Pakistan’s disaster response capacities have been stretched to the limit as massive floods have killed more than a thousand people, wounded hundreds and left entire towns underwater or covered in mud, causing devastation at a scale that may take the country long to recover from.

The district public hospital in Kashmore, a city in the southern Sindh province, has run out of beds and laid out traditional portable beds in the passages to give first aid to the victims of rain related incidents.

Apart from those wounded by flooding, a growing number of patients have been arriving at hospitals with fever, diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.

The hospital in Kashmore, a city bordering the flood-hit Punjab and Balochistan provinces, has turned into a crowded relief center for those affected by the natural disaster.

“We have come from Kandhkot and you see how we are being treated here,” Sakina Mai, a 60 year old patient, told EFE.

The World Health Organization had warned of the elevated risk of water or vector-borne diseases – such as malaria, diarrhea and dengue – in its latest report.

The WHO said that around 888 health centers had been damaged, including 180 that had been completely destroyed, leaving millions of people without access to medical attention or treatment.

Kashmore has only one public hospital with medicines and medical personnel available.

“We can offer what we have and trying our best to provide medical assistance to the flood victims. We receive more than 500 patients on daily basis” on duty doctor Waheed Dareshak told EFE.

A report by the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has several teams working in the affected areas, said Thursday that “most of the patients treated had respiratory infections, fever, skin diseases and diarrhea.”

Although the number of patients arriving at the mobile clinics deployed by MSF has not been very high so far, the organization pointed out that “this is probably due to the fact that many people have enormous difficulties in accessing the places where it is possible to reach with the mobile clinics, as many towns and villages are cut off by water.”

According to the official data, almost 1,200 people, including 399 children, have died since mid-June due to the floods, more than 3,600 people have been injured, more than a million houses have been partially or totally destroyed, and entire villages have been razed.

“The colossal scale of devastation across various parts of the country brought about by the unprecedented climate catastrophe has affected more that 33 million people in Pakistan,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement on Thursday.

He added that the government of Pakistan was using all possible resources and capabilities, but “the sheer scale of the calamity has overstretch our capacity to the limit, necessitating support from the international community.”

The WHO has made access to care centers a top priority for agencies on the ground in the face of the prediction that the floods will get even worse in the coming days, with an “even greater humanitarian and public health impact.”

In the Kot Mithan district of the Punjab province, the water level of the Indus river has started to rise in the area, triggering fears of a new disaster, after the area was flooded two weeks ago resulting in widespread damage.

“The water level is rising and we expect it to exceed 600 cusec. The previous peak was 576,000 last month,” an official from Sindh’s Guddu dam, Dildar Shah, told EFE.

The Pakistan government has insisted that with one-third of its territory underwater, this “is a climate induced calamity, this is not an ordinary monsoon.”

With the country turning into the “ground zero of the consequences of global warming,” the foreign ministry spokesperson said that those “historical responsible for climate change must step up and share the burden of the losses in spirit of solidarity.” EFE

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