KARACHI: While describing the situation in flood-hit areas of Sindh as ‘extremely critical’, health authorities say that serious damages have been occurred to key healthcare installations and estimate that more than 1,000 health facilities so far across the province have been damaged by the floods.

The situation poses a serious challenge for the government as it becomes very difficult to offer any service to flood victims, who are at risk of multiple diseases, like waterborne infections, diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and skin diseases.

The authorities also believe that at this stage it is premature to estimate how long it could take to rebuild these healthcare facilities and infrastructure.

The fresh estimates emerge in the latest report prepared by the Sindh health department which shows that the floods have ruined some 122 government hospitals, dispensaries and health units which were offering treatments at different levels across the province.

Officials say rebuilding of damaged hospitals may take considerable time

“The level of damage is so high that it forced the health authorities to abandon certain facilities and move to alternative places as makeshift arrangements,” the officials said.

“Apart from 122 completely damaged health facilities, there are 950 government hospitals, dispensaries or health units which have also been hit by floods and most of them are no more able to offer any services,” said an official citing the report.

“Among these facilities, Mirpurkhas is among the worst-hit which has completely lost 65 facilities and 171 partially followed by Sukkur where 14 health facilities have completely been damaged. The other key regions of the province include Hyderabad with 22 facilities, Larkana 13 and Shaheed Benazirabad with seven.”

Dr Muhammad Juman Bahoto, director general (DG) of health services, agreed that the flood had made the health service delivery challenging at the time when it’s most needed.

He said that the provincial government in an immediate move was trying to acquire space to move the health facilities as makeshift arrangement.

“The assessment is still going on,” he said.

“The structures which have been damaged include all kinds of health facilities and in some cases even fully-fledged general hospitals, which are badly hit by floodwater and no more able to offer any service. However, the donor agencies are now cooperating with us and we are making emergency arrangements to operationalise the maximum number of health facilities in different districts.”

He said the province had borne major damage in 22 districts and in those areas the health systems were badly affected. At the same time alternative arrangements were being made to cope with the emerging situation, he added.

The other assessments issued by the Sindh health ministry in its reports suggest that Naushahro Feroze has emerged as the worst-affected area where more than 725,000 people are displaced who have already left their homes due to floods.

Larkana follows next where around 442,993 people are displaced, which is more than 36 per cent of the total population of the district.

Amid displacement of such a large number of people and almost non-existent healthcare system, the fear of spread of waterborne diseases and other infections rears its head.

The concerns recently reverberated in an assessment report federal health ministry prepared warns that up to five million people across the country are at risk of different diseases after their displacement from homes and now living in tents.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022

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