LAHORE - Merlin has successfully secured funding from ECHO, UNICEF and WFP to deliver much needed health care in Sindh. According to a Press release, Merlin will be providing health services to over 500,000 people in Dadu and Thatta districts over the next six months. Merlin plans to provide integrated primary and secondary health services with Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Reproductive Health, referral to Basic and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmOC), nutrition services and malaria control. Merlins Country Health Director said, Health needs in Sindh increased dramatically because of the floods. Like all Merlin programmes, activities will target people living in hard to reach areas with little or no health care services. Merlin plans to increase access and availability of effective and integrated health care including malaria and nutrition services to the flood affected population, supporting Sindhs public health system. Merlin will be running 25 static health facilities, and eight mobile health teams, working across both districts. One of Merlins key objectives is to strengthen the delivery of health services through ongoing capacity building and training on medical protocols for improved case management and counseling of the local population and health workers focused at improving critical key health practices. WINTER HEALTH RISKS In order to prepare for winter and the anticipated health needs that will result, Merlin is taking a number of measures to prepare for this. Focus will especially be given to the most vulnerable conflict and flood affected communities and individuals in Merlins programming areas, including children, women and the elderly. Merlin is in the process of transitioning 7 Diarrhoea Disease Units (DDUs) into Infectious Disease Units (IDU5) in various districts of KPK and Punjab provinces. These will be fully equipped to manage the anticipated caseload of Acute Respiratory Infections (ARls) that are anticipated over the winter period, in addition to other illnesses such as malaria and acute watery diarrhoea (AWD). Of the geographical area that Merlin is currently supporting throughout Pakistan, specific parts of Swat and Buner districts in KPK province have been identified at risk of being cut off over the winter period. Measures have therefore been taken to pre-stock these facilities with two months supply of drugs and provide additional warehousing to avoid stock ruptures over the coming challenging months. As numbers of respiratory infections increase, we are also highly concerned about malnutrition, for it can create a vicious circle of illness, diminishing a patients ability to fight infections, said Dr. ljaz Habib, Merlins Nutrition Coordinator. As winter sets in, we expect to see complications such as pneumonia, and this can be deadly for people who are already suffering from malnutrition, especially children and the elderly. As part of Merlins nutrition activities, an additional 55 metric tonnes of fortified blended foods such as UNIMIX and Plumpy Nut, a high protein and high energy peanut-based therapeutic food product often used to treat severe malnutrition, has been distributed in seven union councils of Upper Swat to communities most vulnerable over winter. This distribution will cover nearly 20,000 children less than five years of age and pregnant and lactating women.