Oxfam Warns of Severe Health Crisis in Pakistan as Flood Funding Stalls

For Immediate Release


Rebecca Wynn on + 92 308 555 9694 or rwynn@oxfam.org.uk

Oxfam Warns of Severe Health Crisis in Pakistan as Flood Funding Stalls

Trebling of disease in less than three weeks underlines need for further funding

LONDON - International aid agency Oxfam today warned of a public
health catastrophe in flood-hit Pakistan. The aid agency said while
funding had stalled in recent weeks, the number of cases of reported
disease, numbers of people displaced, and numbers of people affected by
the floods continue to rise each day.

The initial UN appeal, launched to meet the immediate needs of 6
million Pakistanis, is 67 percent funded, an increase of only ten
percent in the past two and a half weeks. During this same period, the
number of cases of acute diarrhea, skin diseases, acute respiratory
infections and suspected malaria has more than trebled.

Skin diseases have leapt from 260,000 to 860,000 cases, acute
diarrhea has leapt from 200,000 to 610,000 cases, and acute respiratory
infections have leapt from 200,000 to 670,000 cases.

The UN appeal was hastily prepared when the floods
began and does not reflect current needs. Since it was launched the
number of people affected by the floods has increased from 14 million to
21 million with 10 million displaced and eight million in need of
immediate assistance as the floodwaters have flowed south and inundated
much of Punjab and Sindh provinces.

Oxfam warned that the two most important areas for disease prevention
and treatment are the worst funded. Just 30 percent of the money
needed for water and sanitation and 57 percent for health have been

Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in Pakistan, said:

"Just in the past week, the estimated number of
people affected has increased by three million. But funding levels have
stayed the same. More people have got sick and more people have fled
from the floodwaters. If we are to avert the spread of waterborne
disease, then clean water, sanitation and medical supplies are vital. It
is shameful that these essentials have attracted such paltry levels of
donor funding."

So far only 2.5 million people have been provided with clean water,
which is vital to prevent the spread of water-borne disease. A lack of
funds is preventing agencies from scaling up. The World Health
Organization warns that if the affected population is not immediately
provided with clean water, sanitation and hygiene materials, we may see
as many as six million new cases of acute diarrhea in flood-affected

The current UN appeal is due to be revised in the next week and is
likely to be triple the amount of the initial appeal, which stands at
US$ 459.7 million.

European ministers are due to discuss the crisis in Pakistan
in Brussels tomorrow. Although some European donors have been generous,
others are lagging behind. The UK has committed over €50m, Germany
€15m, and Sweden €13m. No other European Country has committed more than
€10m. France has contributed less than two million Euros to date.

Khan continued:

"It's essential that donors step up to the plate. The people of
Pakistan are depending on them. Those who have been generous will need
to be more generous still, and those who have not given their fair share
must do so. The levels of funding are not commensurate with need and
compare unfavorably with other crises. Even counting pledges outside the
UN appeal, the aid money only works out at $40 per affected person. By
contrast, after the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 commitments in the first
month amounted to $570 per affected person."


Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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