Pregnant Women at Risk in Pakistan Floods

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Aid groups and United Nations agencies are warning Pakistan’s flooding has exposed 500,000 pregnant women to health risks.

Save the Children says 100,000 women are due to give birth in the next month and the World Health Organization says about 500,000 flood-affected pregnant women are currently in their second or third trimesters — with nearly 500,000 newborns expected to be born in the coming half year, Inter Press Service reported Wednesday.

“We know that mothers are giving birth in flimsy or crowded shelters, steps away from stagnant water and debris,” Sonia Kush, director of emergency preparedness and response for Save the Children, said. “And we know the dangers for newborns are extreme — the first hours and days of a child’s life in the developing world are the riskiest, even without the added complications posed by a disaster of this scope.

“Displacement, increased impoverishment, crowded living conditions, disease and infection are further imperiling the lives of mothers and their newborn babies in Pakistan,” Kush said.

The United Nations has been active in providing reproductive health care in the relief efforts thus far, officials said.

“We must ensure the health and safety of all these women and their babies,” U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja said. “This disaster has already affected almost 18 million people. We don’t want it to also affect half a million babies who are not born yet.”

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