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Pakistan deploys more doctors to fight disease after floods

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has deployed thousands of extra doctors and paramedics to the country’s worst-hit province to contain the spread of the disease, which has killed at least 300 flood victims, officials said Friday. .

Some of the doctors who refused to work in Sindh province have been fired by the government, according to the provincial health department. The floods have killed 724 people, including 311 children and 133 women in the province since July.

The monsoon rains and floods, which many experts say are fueled by climate change, have affected 33 million people, caused 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.

Over the past two months, Pakistan has sent nearly 10,000 additional doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to care for survivors in health facilities and makeshift medical camps across Sindh. About 18,000 doctors and nearly 38,000 paramedics are treating survivors in the province, according to health department data.

The floods damaged more than 1,000 health facilities in Sindh, forcing survivors to travel to other areas to seek medical help.

Water-borne and other diseases in the past two months have killed 334 flood victims. The death toll prompted the World Health Organization last week to sound the alarm about a “second disaster” as doctors on the ground rushed to battle outbreaks.

Some floodwaters in Pakistan have receded, but many districts in Sindh are still submerged and displaced people living in tents and makeshift camps are at risk of gastrointestinal infections, dengue fever and malaria, which are in increase in the middle of stagnant waters.

In Sindh, teams of fumigators have fanned out in flood-hit areas, spraying in a bid to keep mosquitoes at bay and prevent further outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria. Over 134,000 cases of diarrhea and 44,000 cases of malaria were reported in the hardest hit parts of Sindh last week.

Dengue fever is also on the rise, notably in Karachi, the provincial capital, where health teams were spraying insecticide on puddles in the streets.

The devastation has led the United Nations to consider sending more money than it pledged in its $160 million flash appeal to support Pakistan’s flood response.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is in New York, was due to speak later on Friday at the UN General Assembly to seek more help from the international community. His office said Sharif met President Joe Biden at a reception for the gathering of world leaders in New York.

On Thursday, Sharif tweeted his thanks to Biden for shining a light on the plight of flood victims and urged the global community to help Pakistan as it was still under water and needed help. Washington is a key supporter of Pakistan’s flood response.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said 123 flights carrying aid from various countries and UN agencies delivered desperately needed aid. Local authorities are distributing these supplies, which include tents, food, cooking utensils and drinking water bottles, to flood survivors across the country.

On Wednesday, Julien Harneis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan, said the humanitarian situation remained dire, with extensive damage to physical infrastructure and continued damage to people and livestock. Outbreaks of diarrhoea, typhoid and malaria are rising rapidly as millions sleep in temporary shelters or in the open, he said.

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