ISLAMABAD: Federal and provincial health authorities have been directed by the prime minister to ‘coordinate’ efforts and ‘pool’ resources to reach the flood victims who have been exposed to deadly water-borne diseases.
Chairing a meeting of national health agencies and multinational donor outfits here on Tuesday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that more than 3.5 million children were at risk for cholera, diarrhoea, malaria and gastroenteritis.
The PM fears that children who are already weak were more vulnerable to water-borne diseases such. “As human misery continues to mount, we are seriously concerned withthe spread of epidemic diseases,” says Gilani.
The meeting decided to form a national steering committee to evolve a better coordination between the federal and provincial health ministries and appoint focal person for this purpose at the district level.
The federal ministry’s National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Network (NHEPRN) would hold one or two meetings a week to monitor the relief activities, said Information Minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira while briefing the media.
PM Gilani would chair the meetings of these agencies once a fortnight and personally monitor the work done by them, according to Kaira. He added that the Gilani had asked authorities to focus on improving hygiene inside the thousands of camps.
The government is trying to reach all the people needing health assistance but the magnitude of the destruction due to these floods is not only colossal but multi-dimensional, said Gilani according to a handout statement by his media office.
“One of government’s greatest worries is providing a safe environment to thousands of pregnant women,” said Gilani.
“I would also like to stress the need for special arrangements for expecting mothers and maternity cases in the flood affected areas, said Gilani.
Reproductive health kits for 35,000 people for three months have been given to the provinces in this regard, he added.
More than 180 separate camps have been established to provide healthcare to pregnant women, expecting birth in coming six months, says Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin. He explains that there are fears of diseases but the government is going a ‘very long way’ to control them. But Kaira said that these diseases will possibly keep turning into epidemics.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2010.
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