Pakistan

20,000 displaced by Pakistan earthquake, WHO warns of health risks

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29 October, 2009 - ISLAMABAD/GENEVA -- Accessibility to health services, exposure to cold weather and access to safe food and water are major health concerns facing the at least 20 000 people displaced by today's magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province.

At least 160 people are feared to have died in the earthquake and the number is expected to rise with many people missing and feared buried under the rubble of hundreds of homes that have been damaged or destroyed. Rescue efforts are underway to search for survivors.

The World Health Organization is sending two truckloads of essential medicines and supplies for 50 000 people for three months to the most-affected districts of Ziarat and Pishin. WHO is also flying trauma supplies stored at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai to treat 400 people into the region.

WHO stands ready to support Pakistani authorities in relief efforts. The country's National Disaster Management Authority has sent 1000 tents and 1500 blankets, as well as other supplies. Provincial health authorities have dispatched ambulances, medicines and medical teams to the affected area. WHO is coordinating closely with health partners to provide optimal response.

Immediate health concerns are access to health services, lack of shelter to cold weather, access to safe food and water, and the low immunization coverage, especially for measles ant tetanus, in the region. WHO and UN partners are undertaking field assessments in the affected area to obtain a clearer picture of the health needs.

For further information or interviews contact:

Paul Garwood
Communications Officer
WHO, Health Action in Crises, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 3462
Mobile: +41 794 755546
E-mail: garwoodp@who.int