Taking health care to Pakistan flood survivors

Floods in Pakistan that have affected over 1.12 million people, have also taken out large health care centres and hospitals, leaving survivors with little or no medical care.

The country’s national disaster management authority says that nearly 260 people have been killed by the torrential rainfall and at least twice that number of people left injured. The United Nations expects about 3 million people in total to be affected in the coming days.

ACT member Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan reports that most families lack enough food, shelter and drinking water – factors that increase the risk of waterborne diseases and other health concerns. While food, emergency shelter, immediate healthcare, clean water and other relief goods are priorities, access to clean water and adequate healthcare is essential to avoid mortality caused by waterborne diseases.

Making home visits in the wake of disaster

In Azad Kashmir, CWS-P/A’s health team has begun assisting affected families in Bagh district, where over 700 houses have been completely or partially damaged leaving 2334 people homeless. Some 2300 acres of land and 1200 acres of crop land have been destroyed, with livestock and property in commercial areas also left ruined.

To reach these remote spots, CWS-PA has sent out a mobile health unit. The well-equipped team includes a doctor, a ‘lady health visitor’ and a medical dispenser providing treatment and medicine. The unit is strategically based near a camp where survivors have taken shelter.

The unit has found that women and children were worst affected by the disaster. Common health issues among children include skin diseases and diarrhea, whereas among women the most commonly reported health problems are urinary tract infections and stomach ache. Survivors are also treated for acute respiratory infections. Eight antenatal cases and 159 consultations were achieved within the first day of the response.

In addition to medical care, CWS-P/A has begun distributing food and other relief to nearly 1300 people in Bagh district. This distribution is made possible through financial contributions from other ACT members Christian Aid and Primate’s Word Relief and Development Fund through the ACT appeal.

CWS-P/A says survivors worry about their lives now that they are faced with the prospect of being without homes or even having no land on which to rebuild. They worry about diminishing food supplies, lost livestock and crops, and about the challenging winter months ahead. It is essential survivors receive immediate relief to prevent an exacerbation of issues in the affected areas, CWS-PA reports.

At the same time, the southern provinces of Pakistan, including Sindh and Balochistan are bracing themselves as rainfall and floodwaters make their way throughout the country. According to local media, Chief Engineer Sukkur Barrage Ahmed Junaid Memon said that more than 150,000 residents from Khairpur, Kingri, Gambat and Sobho Dero talukas would be affected by the flood. With water levels rising in the Indus River, 500,000 people had been evacuated from low lying areas of Sindh, according to local media.

More help is urgently needed. The appeal aims to help 2000 families with food for three months, 1000 families with household relief goods, 400 shelter kits, and 3000 families with health care in Bagh, Haveli, and Poonch districts. Additionally, quality and accountability will be enhanced through capacity building initiatives for aid workers and for affected communities in accessing accountable aid services. CWS-P/A continues to monitor the situation in other parts of the country and subjected to the need, will expand its operations to other affected regions.