Mosquitos threaten lives in Pakistan
Malaria spreads via stagnant floodwaters.
Mon, Oct 04, 2010 at 04:22 PM
HEALTH CRISIS: Women and children in Pakistan are at particular risk as mosquitoes spread malaria while access to women's healthcare is scarce. (Photo: CDC)
Standing, stagnant floodwaters combined with the heat may equal a deadly disaster in the Sindh province of Pakistan. According to the Guardian, officials anticipate over 2 million cases of malaria "in the coming months in the wake of the country's devastating floods."
Malaria spreads when mosquitoes breed and hatch their eggs in the stagnant pools of water. Already, the World Health Organization noted that 250,000 cases of the disease have been reported, including a few cases of the "fatal falciparum strain." The Guardian reports that women and children are most vulnerable to the disease.
The article goes on to say that even this malaria outbreak might not be the worst Pakistan will see as the 20 million affected flood victims prepare for winter. The story says aid workers have been treating over 800,000 cases of diarrhea, nearly a million cases of respiratory disorder and 800,000 cases of skin disease. The article reports that the public health system in Pakistan has been destroyed by the floods, citing damage to over 500 clinics, and around 30,000 health workers left homeless.
The story says Pakistan already had one of the highest maternal mortality rates, so the unavailability of healthcare could prove tragic for the "estimated 50,000 flood affected women [who] will give birth in the coming month," not to mention the clinically anemic women living in Sindh and Punjab.
The article ends with an urgent call to action, citing need from Oxfam and United Nations humanitarian relief efforts. In a sobering conclusion, the article reminds readers that large parts of northern Pakistan will be unreachable in winter months except potentially by boat or helicopter.