UNICEF preventing deaths among growing camp populations
Earthquake relief effort: Preventing deaths among growing camp populations
It is reported that two children exposed to the winter cold have already died of pneumonia. Sadly, it is always children who are the most vulnerable ones.
Clean water and good hygiene are vital to survival
UNICEF Health Officer Tamur Mueenuddin is witnessing firsthand the growing problem in Muzaffarabad. “The hygienic situation is fairly deplorable, so I would have to say that water and sanitation is our main priority right now,” he said.
“Children are malnourished, viral infections are rampant. They begin often with acute upper respiratory syndrome and sometimes the viral infections will include diarrhoea infections as well.”
The struggle against disease takes place on several fronts. A vital part of the effort is providing clean water. When the October quake destroyed the water system around Muzaffarabad, UNICEF immediately began installing makeshift water tanks in the camps and digging pit latrines.
Only 64 per cent of needed funds received
Education is also essential. Displaced families who had never seen a latrine before are educated about their use. Children are taught to wash their hands with soap and water regularly. These simple things are crucial for maintaining health and preventing more deaths.
Training the Pakistan Army in camp management has also become a UNICEF priority. Now, local military officials regularly survey the camps, with an eye for the water, sanitation, and nutrition needs of the population.
But as the number of displaced people in the camps continues to grow, so do their needs for shelter, water, sanitation, nutrition, and health care. More resources are needed to sustain and expand the relief effort. The UNICEF emergency appeal has currently received only 64 per cent of the total amount needed, which is $93 million.