10 November 2005

UN Says more Resources Needed to Support Government of Pakistan Acute Diarrhoea Outbreaks Reported in Spontaneous Camps

NEW YORK, 9 November (UN Headquarters) -- Serious outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea in Muzaffarabad and other devastated earthquake locations are focusing attention on the need to scale up efforts to provide safe water supply and sanitation in the self-settled camps, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

Dr. Khalif Bile, the WHO representative in Pakistan, said that, "although the laboratory diagnosis is not yet confirmed, these cases of acute watery diarrhoea should be taken extremely seriously.  Prompt treatment by rehydration is essential, and we continue to monitor the situation".

Diarrhoeal diseases are caused by bacteria getting into the potable water supply system, much of which has been damaged or destroyed in the earthquake zone.  With the establishment of self-settled camps by homeless communities, people are living in crowded conditions, with an unsafe water supply and poor sanitation facilities.  With insufficient latrines being dug, there is no provision for those affected by acute watery diarrhoea to use separate latrines.  This results in further contamination of the drinking water supply.

The humanitarian community has been focusing efforts on supporting better-managed camps, particularly in terms of providing safe water supply and sanitation facilities to international guidelines. The Camp Management cluster, led by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is currently providing technical support to 18 planned camps established by the Government of Pakistan, where around 10,000 people are now living.  A key priority by the end of November is also to improve the sanitation, water supply, and healthcare conditions in the self-settled camps.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Jan Vandemoortele, stressed the need for more resources to help the Government, especially the Ministry of Health and Federal Relief Commission.  "We once more appeal for the required funding and resources to be made available now, so that we can support the Government of Pakistan in repairing the water supply, setting up adequate sanitation facilities and providing emergency healthcare to those affected", he said.

Mr. Vandemoortele also noted the importance of basic hygiene education for those living in the camps, to help reduce the threat of diarrhoeal disease.  United Nations agencies and other humanitarian actors are working closely with the Federal Relief Commission and the Pakistani military to train teams to visit all self-settled camps and assist with water, sanitation and hygiene education.

For further information, please visit www.un.org.pk  or contact Amanda Pitt, Public Information Officer:  Tel.:  + 92 (0) 301 532 3985; e-mail:  pitta@un.org .

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