Doctors say the number of people suffering from diarrhoea, skin infections and other waterborne ailments is rising in the country's flood-hit areas.
Officials in Pakistan have raised concern over the spread of waterborne diseases among thousands of flood victims as waters from powerful monsoon rains began to recede in many parts of the country.
The warning on Wednesday came a day after record-breaking floods prompted the United Nations to formally issue an appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to the impoverished nation, where about a million homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Massive flooding from the rains since mid-June has killed at least 1,162 people, a phenomenon experts blame on the climate crisis.
Some doctors said initially they were seeing mostly patients traumatised by the flooding, but are now treating people suffering from diarrhoea, skin infections and other waterborne ailments in the country's flood-hit areas.
The development has forced the government to deploy additional medical teams and dispatch medicine besides providing clean drinking water to survivors, many of whom are living in tents and makeshift homes.
Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, health minister in the country's worst-affected province of Sindh, said officials have set up 4,210 medical camps in the province's flood-hit areas to treat victims now suffering from skin and waterborne diseases, which are common during floods.
WHO working with local authorities
The World Health Organization began aiding Pakistani authorities in their efforts to treat people injured in the rains and flooding. The agency said in a statement it was working to increase surveillance for acute diarrhoea, cholera and other communicable diseases to avoid spreading further, and is also providing medicine and medical supplies to health facilities.
“WHO is working with health authorities to respond quickly and effectively on the ground," said Dr. Palitha Mahipala, the WHO representative in Pakistan.
Authorities said waterborne diseases among flood victims are now common across the country.
“Initially we received injured people, but now diarrhoea is common," said Farhad Khan, a physician in charge of a medical camp set up in the northwestern town of Charsadda.
It is one of the worst flood-hit districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, where floods killed 257 people since mid-June.
Pakistani authorities backed by the military, rescuers and volunteers, have struggled to evacuate marooned people to safer places.
On Wednesday, military helicopters continued evacuating flood victims and delivering food to remote regions, according to a statement released by the military. It said it has deployed at least 6,500 troops to assist in rescue and relief operations.
Rescuers were also using boats to evacuate stranded people in southern Sindh province and in remote villages in eastern Punjab province, according to government officials.
As districts in #Pakistan continue to be affected by massive monsoon rainfall and unprecedented levels of flooding, @WHO warns of significant public health threats.https://t.co/CFdpClXY22@WHOPakistan pic.twitter.com/joN19NXk41— WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) (@WHOEMRO) August 30, 2022