Concern as UN cofirms cholera case in Pakistan
The UN has confirmed the discovery of a case of cholera in Pakistan’s flood-ravaged northwest raising concerns that thousands now face a new threat from the deadly, waterborne disease.
The cholera was confirmed in Mingora, the main town in the northwest’s Swat Valley, according to UN spokesman, Maurizio Giuliano.
Other cases are suspected, and aid workers are now responding to all those exhibiting acute watery diarrhoea as if it was cholera, Giuliano said.
Cholera can lead to severe dehydration and death without prompt treatment, and containing cholera outbreaks is considered a high priority following floods.
Meanwhile, Caritas is appealing for €4.3 million to help Pakistan’s flood victims as the situation grows increasingly desperate.
Over 1,600 people have died in the disaster and up to 14 million people are affected.
Floodwaters have washed away homes, bridges, schools, water systems and medical facilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as parts of Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“The priority is to ensure people have food, water, shelter and medical help. There are so many people who are in grave difficulty. It’s such a traumatic situation for those who have lost everything and who have to rely on others even for a drink of water,” according to Anila Gill, national executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan.
Relief agencies are struggling to meet the demands of those in need, and have warned that there is a danger that the Taliban will use the crisis to strengthen its grip in the north of the country.
A priest in the city of Lahore has told the Fides news agency that international relief efforts to help flood victims are slow to reach Christians and members of other religious minorities.
As the monsoon season and heavy rains continue, new areas of Pakistan continue to be flooded.
The floods are said to be the worst in eighty years in Pakistan.
The number of people affected means that long after the waters have dried up many difficulties will persist.