GENEVA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) urged Tuesday for a further scale up of health services for nearly 1.3 million people in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh as vulnerable populations remain at risk of disease and are in need of critical services for survival.
An estimated 688,000 Rohingyas crossed over to Cox's Bazar from Myanmar beginning Aug. 25, 2017, joining nearly 212,500 others who had arrived in earlier waves.
The majority of the refugees are living in Kutapalong and Balukhali mega camps, currently one of the world's biggest refugee settlement areas and also one of the world's most densely-populated areas.
The Bangladesh government, the WHO, and partner agencies have provided health services to prevent diseases such as cholera, measles and diphtheria.
However, the challenges are "huge, multiple and evolving", said Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO South-East Asia. "The magnitude of the crisis requires continued efforts and generous contributions by all partners to scale up health services for the vulnerable population."
According to the WHO, an estimated 60,000 children are expected to be born in the camps in the next year. Besides newborns, pregnant women and young mothers, children, adults and the elderly need basic health services as well as treatment for injuries, trauma and various non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and psycho-social support.
Additionally, the upcoming rainy season and the risk of cyclones and floods will increase the vulnerability of these people to waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea and hepatitis, and vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and chikungunya.
The most impending challenge for now is finding a safe space to relocate the refugees in case of floods and cyclones during the upcoming rainy season, which may further impact their health, according to the WHO.
Despite all efforts, "the health sector is grossly under-funded and grappling to meet the needs of the affected population," Dr. Khetrapal Singh said.