WHO classified floodings in Pakistan as the highest-level health emergency

WHO classified floodings in Pakistan as the highest-level health emergency
Monsoon floods. Source: © Misbahul Aulia/Unsplash, 2021.


Finia Hilmes

Pakistan & Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the floodings in Pakistan as the highest-level health emergency and released $10 million from the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) in order to treat the injured, deliver and provide health supplies and prevent outbreaks (The News International, 2022). The WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared that three-fourths of Pakistan’s districts and 33 million people have been affected including at least six million in urgent need of humanitarian aid (The News International, 2022). Specifically, the WHO Director General stated that due to the severity of the emergency all levels of the organization are involved in response (The News International, 2022).

The reason for this emergency are weeks of heavy monsoon rains which caused extensive flooding and landslides (The News International, 2022). This resulted in deaths, the displacement of people and damage to the health infrastructure (The News International, 2022). In addition to the damaged health infrastructure, a shortage of doctors and limited health supplies are disrupting health services, leaving the most vulnerable such as children and pregnant women at higher risk (The News International, 2022). Indeed, more than 1,000 deaths have been reported while almost 900 health facilities have been damaged (The News International, 2022).

Furthermore, the WHO stated the floodings have led to new outbreaks of diarrheal diseases, skin infections, respiratory tract infection, malaria, dengue and more, besides the health threats Pakistan was already facing such as Covid-19, cholera, typhoid, measles, leishmaniasis, HIV and polio (The News International, 2022).

Despite the severe health threats in form of diseases Pakistan is facing, the loss of crops and livestock will have a substantial impact on the nutrition and health of many communities who depend on those resources according to the WHO Director General (The News International, 2022).

Overall, the natural catastrophe placing Pakistan in a state of health emergency can be derived from climate change, which is an existential threat to the whole world, requiring urgent action (The News International, 2022).

Sources and further reading: 

The News International. (2022b, September 1). WHO declares highest level health emergency in Pakistan. Retrieved September 1, 2022, from https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/987386-who-declares-highest-level-health-emergency-in-pakistan.