In light of growing concerns about the threat presented by waterborne diseases like cholera and dengue, the authorities have cautioned that it may take up to six months for devastating flood waters to recede in the country’s hardest-hit districts.
More than 1,400 people have died as a result of floods in Pakistan’s northern mountain regions brought on by record monsoon rains and melting glaciers, while an additional 33 million people have been affected. Homes, roads, trains, cattle, and crops have all been destroyed. More than $30 billion in damages are now anticipated, which is quadruple the prior estimate of $10 billion.
“Karachi is seeing an outbreak of dengue as hundreds and thousands of patients are reporting daily at government and private hospitals. The dengue cases this year are 50% higher than last year. With 584,246 people in camps throughout the country, the health crisis could wreak havoc if it will go unchecked,” Pakistan’s climate minister Sherry Rehman said Monday.
I wonder if gene drives could be used to contain the spread of Malaria and Dengue after the heavy floods in Pakistan? I've seen videos of dense mosquito clouds forming over the flooded cities and we could be looking at a terrible outbreak in the region. #Dengue
— Dr. Shaista Lodhi (@IamShaistaLodhi) September 11, 2022
Due to the devastation of up to 70% of vital crops like rice and maize, Rehman warned that the country now faced the possibility of severe food shortages and urgently need “food, tents, and medicines.”
In Sindh province, particularly in districts near the Indus River that have been severely affected, rising flood levels continue to be a worry. According to weather predictions, this trend of nonstop rain is projected to last through September.
Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh, said in a statement on Monday that the prolonged monsoon rains will delay attempts to evacuate the water, with estimates for some of the worst affected areas ranging from 3 to 6 months.
The largest freshwater lake in the country, Manchar Lake, has been spilling since early September, causing flood waters to affect nearly 100,000 people and several hundred towns.
“We are expediting our efforts to provide medicines and medics to the 81 calamity-hit flood affected districts of the country. However, these are still very initial estimates as new data is coming up on the ground,” said Shah.
Both the Pakistani government and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres have blamed global climate change for worsening extreme weather that caused “monsoon on steroids,” and have submerged a third of the country’s land.
In a two day visit to flood ravaged Pakistan, Guterres expressed “deep solidarity with the Pakistani people over the devastating loss of life and human suffering caused by this year’s floods,” and met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the disaster response.