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In Pakistan, ADRA intensifies emergency flood relief effort

Waterborne disease a growing concern as hundreds of thousands lack shelter, clean water

In Pakistan, ADRA intensifies emergency flood relief effort

A flood victim receives treatment from one of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency's mobile medical teams in Pakistan. A recent sharp increase in waterborne diseases is worsening conditions in the country, where millions still lack shelter and clean water. [photo courtesy ADRA Pakistan]

The humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is redoubling relief work in northern Pakistan, a region devastated by recent flooding where residents now face widespread disease.

Concentrating on the country's Nowshera District, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is mobilizing medical teams to treat a sharp increase in waterborne diseases among flood victims. In collaboration with local and tribal authorities, the teams are expected to support medical relief work at local schools, hospitals and community centers, ADRA officials said.

Their first response will focus on hospitals and clinics destroyed by the floods in the Nowshera District, ADRA officials in the United Kingdom said. Ongoing efforts will include a program for schools to raise awareness of waterborne diseases and how to treat them.

Spurred by heavy monsoon rains beginning late last month in the country's north, flooding has swept across the country's low-lying areas in recent weeks, leaving hundreds of thousands without shelter and vulnerable to waterborne diseases.

Floodwaters now cover approximately one-fifth of the country, Pakistan's government officials said.

Millions of flood victims still lack clean drinking water and basic shelter, the Associated Press reported. According to the United Nations, there are already more than 120,000 cases of suspected dengue and malaria, with skin infections and diarrhea affecting hundreds of thousands more. The threat of disease is most critical four to six weeks after an initial flood, Pakistan's national health coordinator Jahanzeb Orakzai told AP.

ADRA's emergency response is expected to last two months and will benefit an area with an estimated population of 200,000 residents, the agency said in a statement last week. ADRA said it will assist the most vulnerable groups first, including the elderly, pregnant women and children.

ADRA also reported that ongoing conflict along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan has further destabilized the region and continues to fetter relief efforts.