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Pakistan: high risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the south

01-11-2010 News Release 10/195

Geneva/Islamabad (ICRC) - As the heavily swollen Indus River returns to normal, the nature of the health emergency facing flood victims is changing.

The risk of an epidemic of gastro-intestinal illnesses has receded, while the risk of mosquito-borne diseases and malnutrition has risen.

"Flood waters have spread beyond the rivers and irrigation channels of Pakistan's Sindh and Punjab Provinces into poorly-drained, low-lying areas, creating stagnant pools that form a breeding ground for mosquitoes," says Judy Owen, an ICRC health specialist based in Lahore. "We are currently in the middle of the malaria and dengue fever season, so to try and prevent further cases of these diseases amongst flood victims, the ICRC wants to distribute insect-repellent-impregnated mosquito nets to vulnerable inhabitants of this region."

Doctors from the Punjab Ministry of Health who will work with the ICRC during the distribution of the nets have received refresher training on preventive techniques. In Sindh, Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) volunteers trained by the ICRC will help distribute the nets. The ICRC is prepared to educate people about the risk and about what they can do to avoid getting mosquito-borne diseases.

"We've bought 200,000 impregnated nets from regional suppliers, and they arrived in Karachi on 15 September. All we're waiting for now is clearance from the authorities, so the nets can be collected and distributed," explains Katja Lorenz, the ICRC's deputy head of delegation in Islamabad. "Using these nets could really have a major impact in the prevention of those diseases”.

The ICRC continues to work in partnership with the PRCS to distribute relief, both to the victims of Pakistan's devastating floods and to those displaced by the fighting in Pakistan's north-west.

For further information, please contact:
Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 8138
Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2426