Photo Credit: CNN
In Pakistan, another crisis confronts citizens following the heavy rains and floods. Babies lie on hospital beds, some fighting for their lives, and some have already fallen victim to the diseases brought by the accumulated water from the floods that have taken lives and affected millions.
Fatalities occur every hour, and the sound of wailing guardians echoes inside the halls of the hospital that have done all they could to prevent the worst from happening. Cholera is the main cause of infant deaths in Pakistani hospitals. The illness is caused by bacteria that could be contracted through the ingestion of infected drinking water.
Other waterborne diseases have become frequent in many regions in Pakistan. For instance, in the Sindh Province in Pakistan, healthcare professionals at the Mother and Child Healthcare Hospital record about ten children deaths a day. These are all caused by illnesses from water-related diseases that were mainly induced by the recent floods.
In the same hospital, many young patients are cramped inside wards and in the emergency room. The scenes are heart-wrecking, with children crying from the pain and others still unconscious. Nurses take care of patients who look pale and thin, visibly showing malnutrition.
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The patients’ parents wait tirelessly outside the emergency room, hoping their children can make it out alive.
“The floods came, and the rain fell. And then our patients came in like the floods,” Dr. Nazia Urooj said.
Experts added that the crisis is unprecedented, and Pakistan needs help from others more than ever. However, help has not yet been extended in many healthcare facilities yet, and if this continues, the situation could become worse, leading to more infant deaths.
This is only the beginning
About 1,600 people have died from the floods in Pakistan, with an estimated 33 million more affected by the rising water. The disaster was caused by monsoon rains and melting glaciers situated in the northern part of Pakistan.
The water forced citizens out of their homes and stranded in community centers without any food or clean water to ingest. Other parts of the country are inaccessible. For example, citizens in Sindh find extreme difficulty in seeking medical help because of unpassable roads.
“Many children are not even reaching hospitals because the medical facilities they could access are either underwater or just not accessible,” explained Aardarsh Leghari, the Communications Officer of UNICEF based in Pakistan.
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More diseases plague the country
While the flooding is almost reaching its end as the water is slowly receding, a batch of illnesses has now taken center stage. Diarrhea, dengue fever, malaria, and dysentery are among the diseases that have sprung as a result of the floods.
The flood did not only cause diseases; it forced people out of their homes or even became utterly homeless. For instance, Rani, a mother of a sick three-year-old child, rushes her son to the Mother and Child Healthcare Hospital to seek medical relief. However, she shares that her condition does not get any better because while her son is sick, they currently live on the side of the road with only a plastic sheet as a roof.
Rani added that the morning and the night present different difficulties. In the morning, she and a couple of other displaced families battle the scorching heat, and at night, they face the attacks of mosquitoes.
“We burn waste so mosquitoes cannot bite (the children). We remain active at night so our children can sleep,” she said.
Leghari reported that mosquito infestations are what troubles Pakistan.
“There are no mosquito nets. It’s the mosquitoes that are bringing in malaria and disease. The other is cholera… it’s like a plethora of diseases coming out of these floodwater lakes. This is going to turn into a bigger health crisis,” he said.
Mai Sabagi, a grandmother, weeps for her five-year-old granddaughter, who had just died from cholera.
“All this has happened because of the rains. We lost our clothes – everything. Our house has been damaged. We have not been given any relief. Poor people cannot afford treatment,” she said.