The UN has warned of serious outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea among quake survivors in Pakistani Kashmir and urged the need to scale up efforts to provide safe water supply and sanitation in the makeshift camps.
Several hundred cases of acute diarrhea have been recorded among earthquake survivors in the tent camps in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir and other areas devastated by the Oct 8 temblor.
However, there has been no immediate evidence of a cholera outbreak, said Khalif Bile Mohamud, the World Health Organisation representative in Pakistan.
"Although the laboratory diagnosis is not yet confirmed, these cases of acute watery diarrhoea should be taken extremely seriously," he said. "Prompt treatment by re-hydration is essential, and we continue to monitor the situation."
Diarrhoeal diseases are caused by bacteria getting into the potable water supply system.
With their houses damaged in the quake, the homeless are living in crowded makeshift camps, and making do with unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation facilities.
There is also no provision for those affected by diarrhoea to use separate lavatories, resulting in further unhygienic conditions.
UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Jan Vandemoortele stressed the need for more resources to help the Pakistani government, especially the ministry of health and the federal relief commission.
"We once more appeal for the required funding and resources to be made available now, so that we can support the government of Pakistan in repairing the water supply, setting up adequate sanitation facilities and providing emergency healthcare to those affected," he said.
Vandemoortele also noted the importance of basic hygiene education for those living in the camps, to help reduce the threat of diarrhoeal disease.
He said that the UN and other humanitarian agencies were working closely with the federal relief commission and the Pakistani military to train teams to visit all camps and help the survivors with providing hygiene and with clean water.