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As Pakistan's Devastating Floodwaters Recede, Health And Food Fears Rise

A man walks with children in the midst of floodwater along a road in Nowshera, Pakistan, on August 30.
A man walks with children in the midst of floodwater along a road in Nowshera, Pakistan, on August 30.

Pakistani officials expressed concerns about waterborne diseases and food shortages as floodwaters from powerful monsoon rains that were thought to have submerged one-third of the country continued to recede in many places on August 31.

The record flooding from heavy rainfall since mid-June has killed more than 1,100 people, left about a million homes destroyed or damaged, and affected tens of millions of Pakistanis.

The United Nations issued a formal appeal for $160 million in emergency funding for the impoverished South Asian nation.

Evacuations have mostly slowed. But the National Disaster Management Authority has said nearly half a million people in the country of 220 million have been displaced and are in relief camps.

“We fear the outbreak of the waterborne disease in flood-hit areas," Kamran Bangash, a government spokesman in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told the Associated Press.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has begun aiding official efforts to treat people injured in the rains and flooding, including at thousands of makeshift medical camps set up in the hardest-hit areas.

“Our key priorities now are to ensure rapid access to essential health services to the flood-affected population, (to) strengthen and expand disease surveillance, outbreak prevention and control, and ensure robust health cluster coordination.” the WHO representative in Pakistan, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, said.

Survivors are in many cases living in tents and particularly need medicine and clean drinking water.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the flooding the worst in Pakistan's history.

He said on August 31 that "the rice crop has been washed away" and "fruit and vegetables are gone."

Floodwaters swept away some 700,000 livestock, he said.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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