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Pakistan to witness massive child mortality

Sep 14, 2010

Pakistan is at the threshold of witnessing a wave of child mortality owing to unavailability of ration and lack of proper treatment of malnourished children in the flood hit areas. Water borne diseases arising out of poor sanitation further threaten lives of the children.


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The Irish aid agency, GOAL, today warned of "a massive wave of mortality" among children displaced by floods which have affected the country for the last six weeks and disrupted the lives of some 20 million people.

Following a series of new field assessments in Sindh Province, GOAL's Head of Programmes, Jonathan Edgar, said: "The situation is deteriorating fast. Random nutritional screening assessments undertaken by GOAL in Larkana and Sukkur districts of Sindh Province reveal that the dietary requirements of children are being completely overlooked and there is little or no treatment currently available for those falling ill.

"Existing treatment services are often totally inappropriate for their condition. The international response is greatly under-resourced and must be re-focussed if we are to prevent a massive wave of child mortality in the coming weeks and months."

GOAL nutritionist, Hatty Newhouse, visited a camp for internally displaced people outside Larkana town in recent days and carried out screening of 23 children selected at random. Only four of the children did not show any signs of malnutrition; nine had severe malnutrition and were unlikely to survive, and ten others had mild to moderate malnutrition.

Similarly, one of GOALs partner organisations, Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO), conducted a screening in seven camps of 260 children within Sukkur district, finding an average acute malnutrition rate of 40% among children under five, with over half (23%) of these already in the later stage of the illness with severe wasting.

"What we saw may not be representative of the camps as a whole but it is enough to set the alarm bells ringing and indicates that we are more than likely going to see huge mortality rates over the next month to two months," said Newhouse.

"In two hospitals we visited in Larkana town, there were five children to a bed in the paediatric wards and all of them had acute diarrhoea. The treatment of a child with severe acute malnutrition and dehydration from diarrhoea is very different from a normally nourished child. However, all children were being treated in the same fashion. Treatment was totally inadequate.

"More and more children will fall sick because mothers are not breastfeeding; there has been no adequate general food ration established as yet and hygiene and sanitation standards are exceptionally poor. The conditions in many places are perfect for the spread of cholera."

GOAL is now placing more programme emphasis on responding to malnutrition directly and is establishing a nutritional surveillance team and establishing feeding centres for pregnant and lactating mothers and infants which will support 41,400 people over the next six months.

Source : Relief Web
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