| Updated at: 1550 PST, Tuesday, October 05, 2010|
ISLAMABAD: More than 2 million cases of malaria are expected in Pakistan in the coming months after the country's devastating floods, aid workers have warned.
Two months into the crisis, large areas remain submerged in southern Sindh province, creating stagnant pools of standing water that, combined with the heat, are powerful incubators of a disease spread by mosquitoes that breed and hatch in the pools. More than 250,000 cases of suspected malaria, including some of the fatal falciparum strain, have been reported, according to the World Health Organisation.
The aid agency Plan International worries the figure will surpass 2 million.
''The most vulnerable are women and children,'' said its Pakistan director, Haider Yaqub.
The malaria threat is part of a wider health emergency, with more than 20 million people affected by the floods struggling to cope as the winter approaches.
The UN has reported 881,000 cases of diarrhoea, 840,000 cases of skin diseases and almost 1 million cases of respiratory disorders. Dr Dana van Alphen of WHO said: ''There are no epidemics yet … but we have to be very careful.''
The floods have devastated Pakistan's flimsy public health system. Pregnant women are a concern. About 50,000 flood-affected women will give birth in the coming month, with 7500 needing surgery for pregnancy-related complications.
The UN has requested more than $US2 billion ($2.1 billion) to deal with the humanitarian crisis; so far about one-third of that amount has been pledged or donated.