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3.5 mln Pakistan kids at risk of fatal diseases

World bank to provide $900 million loan to Pakistan

The United Nations estimates that up to 3.5 million children are at high risk from deadly water-borne diseases in Pakistan as a result of the country's devastating floods, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.

Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the World Health Organization was also preparing to assist tens of thousands of people in case of cholera.

"WHO is preparing to assist up to 140,000 people in case there is any cholera, but the government has not notified us of any confirmed case," the spokesman told AFP.

"Up to 3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases including diarrhea-related, such as watery diarrhea and dysentery," he said, estimating the total number at risk from such diseases at six million.

Typhoid, hepatitis A and E are also concerns, he said.

"What concerns us the most is water and health. Clean water is essential to prevent deadly water-borne diseases. Water during the flood has been contaminated badly. There is a shortage of clean water," he added.

OCHA said it feared that Pakistan was on the brink of a "second wave of death" unless more donor funds materialize.

"The mortality caused by the incidence of these diseases is increasing. We don't have figures at this moment, but WHO is working round the clock in support for the government to come up with numbers," said Giuliano.

The World Bank announced Monday it has agreed to provide a $900 million loan to flood-hit Pakistan, saying the economic impact of the disaster on the economy was expected to be "huge."

"The government of Pakistan has requested around $900 million of financial support from the World Bank, which we have committed to provide," a statement from the Washington-based bank said.