Diarrheal disease quadruples among North Korean children after flood

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (UPI) — The number of children in North Korea suffering from diarrheal diseases has quadrupled since floods swept through the country’s northeast.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Friday the number of children under the age of 5 suffering from waterborne diseases in flood-hit regions is now four times the number it was a month ago in September, Voice of America reported.

Severe acute malnutrition is also on the rise.

From August to September, the number of children hospitalized for very low weight for height increased four times, according to the U.N. agency.

OCHA said the water and sanitation system of North Hamgyong Province was damaged during the massive flooding that took place from Aug. 29-Sept. 2. Contaminated water at wells and hand-pumps has affected a population of 600,000.

Clean water and sanitation is urgently needed to prevent the further spread of waterborne diseases, the U.N. agency said, adding 45 health clinics in the region have been damaged as a result of the floods. Medicine as well as medical equipment are in scarce supply.

Epidemics could continue to grow unless more action is taken, OCHA stated.

A food shortage is also threatening struggling North Koreans, many of who have been forced out of their homes due to the disaster.

The refugees are receiving an insufficient food ration of 300 grams per day, which is not enough food for the average person, according to the report.

The U.N. agency said it has supplied dietary supplements for 50,000 children and lactating women, as well as providing canned goods and high-calorie biscuits for 140,000 flood victims.

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