Health officials warn of major outbreaks of disease after severe floods in Pakistan

Health officials have warned of large-scale outbreaks of disease in Pakistan after severe flooding displaced millions of people.

A rise in cases of diarrhoea and malaria has been reported after months of heavy rains left people stranded and without access to clean water.

Authorities say they are concerned that the spread of waterborne diseases after the floods, which have killed almost 1,200 people, will further strain health facilities. More than 880 clinics have been damaged, according to the World Health Organization, which has allocated $10m (£8.6m) to emergency health relief efforts.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, said on Wednesday that the agency had classified the floods as the highest level of emergency. He said the threat of waterborne diseases meant access to health services and disease monitoring and controls were a “key priority”.

Arif Jabbar Khan, director of WaterAid Pakistan, has visited Sindh province, province worst affected by the rains, which began in June. He said there was a severe risk of diarrhoea and dysentery because of the lack of clean water.

“Families are now living on the banks of overflowed canals and rivers in ramshackle huts made of bamboo and plastic. They have even been drinking flood water because there is no other option – a recipe for large-scale disease outbreaks. We are doing all we can to reach them,” said Khan.

At least 33 million people have been affected by the floods, which have contaminated water sources and left latrines unusable.