Children in flood affected areas at high risk from malnutrition and disease

Published: November 13, 2010

As many 70,000 children in the flood affected areas are suffering from malnutrition. PHOTO: EPA

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Health was informed on Friday that as many 70,000 children in the flood affected areas are suffering from malnutrition and half of them face the risk of losing their lives if immediate arrangements are not made.

The committee was chaired by Senator Kalsoom Perveen and attended by Senator Rehana Yaha Munawar, Senator Saeeda Iqbal and Senator Abdul Razi and officials of health ministry.

The stunning revelation was made by an official working for the National Nutrition Program, saying that lives of at least 30,000 to 40,000 children could be at a serious risk if timely steps were not taken to provide nutrition for them in the flood affected areas.

The official said that the nutrition of these flood affected children hasn’t been a priority for the national government or the international organisations. He added that the situation is getting worse with each passing day in flood affected areas.

Additional Secretary of the health ministry Nadeem Agha informed the committee that work is underway to cope with the situation and added that a comprehensive plan was in the pipeline and would be finalised by next month. The committee gave a one month timeframe to the ministry for making vital arrangements.

Moreover, the committee was informed that as many 35 people have died across the country due to the Dengue virus, 20 of them belonging to Karachi. However, the ministry officials said that the threat of the Dengue virus would persist till next year and the government has taken all possible preventive measures to handle the situation.

Nadeem Agha said that a task force has been established in the ministry and the provincial headquarters where preventive measures are being taken to handle the situation. He also added that teams from the health ministry and World Health Organisation (WHO) are also visiting flood areas frequently.

The ministry officials also commented on the spread of the Congo virus saying that three people have died so far and the threat of an outbreak is likely due to animal sacrificing. However, directives were issued to all the provincial governments, officials from the live stock departments as well as the municipal administration to follow preventive measures during Eidul Azha. However, the committee expressed its dissatisfaction over the arrangements made by government functionaries to contain the outbreak of the Congo Virus during Edul Azha.

The officials said that there are 111 cases of polio have been confirmed from across the country and 58 have been reported from Fata. Officials cited the inaccessibility and ill-coordination of government departments. The officials also said that only one polio case was confirmed from Balochistan which was challenged by the committee chairperson Senater Kulsoom Perveen , saying that according to her information there are six reported cases of polio in the province.

The chairperson also took serious note on the misusing of vehicles of family health departments in Balochistan and directed the concerned authorities to take action against the responsible elements.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2010.

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