‘Burning with pain’: Pakistan floods threaten major health crisis – Times of India


SUKKUR: At a charity clinic in a southern Pakistani village, dozens of people affected by relentless rain and flooding are crowding at the door, waiting for a volunteer doctor.
The village of Bhambro is located in a poor district of Sindh province, hard hit by record flooding that has destroyed more than a million homes and damaged critical infrastructure, including health facilities across the country.
Bhambro is surrounded by vast expanses of flooded farmland, its streets full of mud and strewn with rubble and manure – conditions ripe for outbreaks of malaria, cholera and skin diseases such as scabies.
“Skin diseases are the biggest problem here because of dirty, standing water and unsanitary conditions,” said Sajjad Memon, one of the doctors at the clinic, which is run by the charity Alkhidmat Foundation.
He used the flashlight on his cell phone to examine patients, who reported mostly scabs and rashes on Tuesday.
Many had gone to the clinic barefoot through filthy floodwater and mud.
“My child’s foot is burning with pain. My feet are too,” said Azra Bhambro, a 23-year-old woman who had come to the clinic for help.
Abdul Aziz, a doctor in charge of Alkhidmat’s clinics in the area, told AFP that cases of scabies and fungal infections are on the rise.
Scabies outbreaks are common in crowded places with tropical conditions — such as flood camps and shelters — and can lead to severe itching and rashes, according to the World Health Organization.
Memon told AFP that many of the patients in the clinic could not afford to buy shoes.
The millions of people affected by the floods face major health risks, including potentially deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, the WHO warned in a statement on Tuesday.
Sindh province in southern Pakistan has been hit particularly hard, with huge swathes of land under water and many villagers forced to move to major cities for shelter, food and medical aid.
The health threat is even greater in areas such as Bhambro, where health services have already been limited, and for the tens of thousands seeking shelter in overcrowded shelters.
“Ongoing disease outbreaks in Pakistan, including acute watery diarrhea, dengue fever, malaria, polio and Covid-19 are further aggravated, especially in camps and where water and sanitation facilities have been damaged,” the WHO said.

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