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Displaced children in Pakistan at high risk from pneumonia

30 November 2010 - Children in flood-hit areas of Pakistan are at high risk of catching pneumonia as winter temperatures plummet leaving hundreds of thousands at risk of catching the deadly disease.

Freezing conditions are expected to fuel the spread of pneumonia in flood-affected areas where people are forced to live out in the open or in tents with little or no access to healthcare.

Temperatures are dropping several degrees below zero in some areas of Pakistan’s worst flood-affected regions and there is a serious lack of adequate shelter in some places.
Save the Children is distributing food, warm clothing, bedding and shelter materials to help people keep warm during the winter months.

"More children are going to die in the flood areas if they don't get the appropriate treatment in time. We are already seeing an increasing number of chest infection cases. The immediate need now is to make sure people can keep warm and have proper shelter," said Mohammed Qazilbash from Save the Children in Pakistan.

Since October Save the Children has treated 13,512 pneumonia patients in the worst affected flood areas of Sindh, Punjab and the Khyber Pakthunkhwa Provinces. Of this number more than half - 7,316 cases - were children.

"Although many of the displaced families have now returned to their villages, they continue to live in tents and makeshift structures. A small tent houses about six to eight people, and is clearly useless against the biting cold. There is also a shortage of food which means children are going hungry, increasing their vulnerability to pneumonia and other diseases," says Mr Qazilbash.

The United Nations estimates about seven million people are still in need of shelter, following the floods and many are living in crowded housing conditions, adding to the risk of contracting the contagious infections that cause pneumonia.

In order to address the immediate health needs of Pakistan's flood affected communities, Save the Children is operating through 62 health facilities and 32 mobile teams in Pakistan and has so far reached more than 465,000 people in all four flood affected provinces.

ENDS

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