UNICEF warns of epi­demic out­break in flood-hit ar­eas

The Pak Banker - - 2national -

IS­LAM­ABAD: The United Na­tions Chil­dren's Fund (UNICEF) warned that win­ter will worsen the threats of epi­demic against chil­dren in­hab­ited in flood hit ar­eas, who al­ready suf­fer high rates of acute res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions and mal­nu­tri­tion.

"The com­ing cold months will sharply in­crease the num­bers of res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions and mal­nu­tri­tion, two of the biggest killers of Pak­istani chil­dren", said Daniel Toole, UNICEF's Re­gional Di­rec­tor for South Asia while talk­ing to APP on Mon­day said.

He in­formed that as many as 126 new po­lio cases are re­ported this year com­pared to 89 in 2009 an enor­mous cause for con­cern es­pe­cially as it had made sig­nif­i­cant strides to­wards erad­i­cat­ing po­lio.

Daniel Toole said that Pak­istan is one of the four po­lio en­demic coun­tries in the world and low on­go­ing cov­er­age in ar­eas ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cult se­cu­rity in the north, over­crowd­ing and poor san­i­ta­tion as a re­sult of the floods have ex­ac­er­bated the threat for chil­dren. "This cri­sis is far from over. It has just evolved in very dif­fer­ent ways from one part of Pak­istan to the next and the hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­fort has had to adapt swiftly to reach chil­dren and women most in need as their needs change," Daniel Toole said.

"Al­though most peo­ple have re­turned to their home ar­eas, many have re­turned to near to­tal de­struc­tion with no homes, no crops, no food and no cash", he added.

The re­gional di­rec­tor said that in North­ern ar­eas, snow has fallen and they are de­liv­er­ing win­ter clothes and sup­plies to help fam­i­lies pre­pare for a harsh win­ter, while in the South slow re­ced­ing wa­ters have meant over a mil­lion lives are still on hold.

Since the early stages of the floods, UNICEF has been pro­vid­ing clean wa­ter to an un­prece­dented 2.8 mil­lion peo­ple daily, and san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties to more than 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple, he said adding, UNICEF has part­nered with World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the govern­ment to im­mu­nize more than nine mil­lion chil­dren against measles and po­lio. In prepa­ra­tion for win­ter, he said, UNICEF has started to dis­trib­ute warm chil­dren's cloth­ing and blan­kets. How­ever, mil­lions of fam­i­lies still need as­sis­tance in the form of wa­ter, medicine and nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments to sur­vive the com­ing months, es­pe­cially those liv­ing in the north of the coun­try as harsh win­ter con­di­tions ap­proach.

UNICEF needs $82.1 mil­lion if it is to con­tinue with its life-sav­ing and re­cov­ery pro­grams in the coun­try, he said adding, to ex­pand ur­gently needed sup­port to im­prove wide­spread mal­nu­tri­tion and to stop po­lio spread­ing, ad­di­tional ur­gent funds are re­quired for con­tin­ued needs in 2011. "The scale of this re­mains mas­sive. The im­pact of the floods in Pak­istan will be felt for years to come, so the more we can do now the quicker chil­dren and fam­i­lies will re­cover, and that means ur­gently needed funds to do our job bet­ter," Toole said. More­over, a com­pos­ite plan to erad­i­cate Po­lio from Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA has been drafted with an all out com­mit­ment to make free of Po­lio by the end of 2011. Gover­nor Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa Owais Ahmed Ghani, on Mon­day was given a de­tailed pre­sen­ta­tion on the pro­posed plan here at the Gover­nor's House. -App

LA­HORE: Chair­per­son NA Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on So­cial Wel­fare and Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Ru­bina Saa­dat Qaimkhani, Akhtar Waraich and Syed Tahir Raza Naqvi sit­ting on the stage dur­ing a sem­i­nar or­ga­nized by So­cial Wel­fare Depart­ment and UNICEF at a lo­cal ho­tel. -On­line

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