Aug 18 2010
6 Million Children in Desperate Need - Deadly water-borne diseases threaten child survival
UNICEF warned today that serious funding shortfalls are jeopardizing its humanitarian operation in Pakistan. UNICEF is extremely concerned at the lack of funds for its water and sanitation operation, with millions of children at risk from water-borne diseases.
"Providing clean water and adequate sanitation is key to the survival of millions of flood-affected people in Pakistan. In terms of numbers of people needing life-saving assistance, this emergency is bigger than the Tsunami, Haiti, and the last Pakistan earthquake put together," said UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja.
"UNICEF is currently providing enough clean water for 1.3 million people every day, but millions more need the same services. We urgently need to scale up the distribution of water. If we are not able to do so because of lack of funding, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery will spread and begin killing affected populations, especially children, already weak and vulnerable to disease and malnutrition," added Mogwanja.
The Government of Pakistan estimates 20 million people overall have been hit by the flood crises, and according to the United Nations at least 15 million people have been seriously affected, half of whom are children.
"It is unbearable to think that six million kids in immediate danger may not get clean water, nutrition and shelter because of a funding shortage," said President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern. "UNICEF is completely dependent on voluntary donations; if we don't raise funds, we can't respond to this emergency. Please help us get word out, and please donate whatever you can to help us meet the need. Even a dollar will be put to good use and help save lives."
UNICEF is concerned that the floods have hit "the poorest of the poor," those least able to survive the present harsh conditions. The top concerns are water-borne diseases, acute respiratory infections, skin diseases and malnutrition rates, already dangerously high in many flood-affected regions of Pakistan.
Polio is endemic and measles still a threat, says UNICEF, which, together with WHO and Government, is carrying out polio and measles vaccinations at relief centers. UNICEF is also supplying oral rehydration solution, a home based treatment for diarrhea, but notes that this treatment is also in short supply due to funding constraints.