Thousands hit by malaria, dengue as South Asia's worst floods in a decade recede

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Thousands of people are suffering from an outbreak of diarrhea, malaria and dengue in Bangladesh and Nepal as the waters from the worst floods in a decade recede, officials and aid agencies said on Wednesday.

More than 1,400 people have died in the floods that have swept South Asia over the past two months and tens of thousands are living in tents, schools and even just under tarpaulins.

“These people need our help, and we are doing all we can to meet their needs,” said Martin Faller, deputy director of the International Federation of the Red Cross in the Asia-Pacific region.

About 13,000 people are ill with diarrhea and respiratory infections in densely populated Bangladesh after floods in its north, where the Brahmaputra and Jamuna rivers broke their banks.

“Diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and dengue are on the rise in some areas and we need support to prevent further death and suffering,” said Mozharul Huq, secretary general of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

In the Himalayan nation of Nepal, 26,944 cases of illness have been reported by district health facilities, while 39,712 people had been treated in health camps by Aug. 30, the health ministry said.

But no epidemic has yet been reported, although health officials were monitoring conditions in flood-affected areas to spot possible outbreaks, the ministry said in a status report.

Save the Children said some communities had been entirely wiped out in India’s eastern state of Bihar, just over the border from Nepal, with not a single building left undamaged.

The agency estimated 17 million children needed help with protection, health care and basic nutrition in India alone.

Additional reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani