At the end of July 2010, heavy monsoon rains in parts of Pakistan triggered the most devastating flooding in the country in over 80 years. The floods destroyed houses, schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces, damaging more than 1.7 million homes and displacing more than 15 million people. When the flooding subsided, stagnant water and the lack of access to clean drinking water and health facilities caused outbreaks of waterborne diseases. In addition, the flooding destroyed crops and livelihoods exacerbating already high malnutrition levels throughout Pakistan. The overwhelming destruction, followed by disease, has devastated the lives of millions.
When the floods began, International Medical Corps immediately deployed mobile clinic teams to the most severely affected areas of Pakistan to provide emergency medical services. In September, we implemented a holistic approach, providing services such as comprehensive primary and mental healthcare, health and hygiene education, and psychosocial counseling.
Due to International Medical Corps’ presence and long history of working in Pakistan, the emergency response to the floods was led by our Pakistani national staff. Immediately after the disaster, we had over 900 local health professionals and volunteers working to respond to the crisis. Currently, 750 national staff are facilitating our programs.
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
International Medical Corps has provided more than 1.4 million patient consultations since the onset of the floods. We have provided emergency care and other health services for anywhere from 50 to 200 patients per day at each of our clinics. The most treated conditions include diarrheal diseases due to contaminated water sources, acute respiratory illnesses and skin infections including scabies. As the rapid spread of communicable diseases has been a serious threat following this disaster, the mobile health teams also operate as a disease ‘early-warning’ system; by getting out into the communities, they can spot the early signs of cholera and other waterborne diseases associated with large amounts of standing water and limited sanitation. In addition, our teams prioritize care for vulnerable groups like women and children who often find it difficult to travel to safe places where they can get help.
Responding to psychological needs after a disaster is an important focus of International Medical Corps.
We have provided more than 80,000 psychosocial support sessions to people, including children under 12, identified with depression, anxiety and significant psychological distress.
WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
International Medical Corps is supporting the Gynecological/Obstetric and Pediatric wards of the District
Headquarters Hospital in Sindh. Our teams have conducted more than 2,900 consultations, including performing healthy deliveries and antenatal and postnatal consultations.
In addition, we are committed to combating malnutrition in children. In Sindh and Punjab, where malnutrition reached alarming levels following the floods, International Medical Corps-supported health facilities are screening children for acute malnutrition and providing curative nutrition services.
To ensure the health of local children, International Medical Corps’ teams took part in National Immunization Days (NIDs) organized by the local Ministry of Health in cooperation with the World Health Organization – to successfully vaccinate children in camps for Afghan refugees as well as Pakistani host communities in the surrounding areas. International Medical Corps successfully provided the polio vaccine for approximately 23,600 children under five during each of the 11 NIDs, which resulted in 100% vaccination coverage by the end of 2010.
CLEAN WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE
Ensuring that people have clean water is one of the most effective ways to prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases. International Medical Corps has established a waterborne disease treatment center in the District Headquarters Hospital in Nowshehra, one of the districts hardest-hit by the floods. We also have conducted health and hygiene education classes for more than 1.6 million people. These courses cover the prevention of illnesses caused by stagnant water, such as diarrhea, scabies and acute respiratory illnesses.
A BRIGHTER FUTURE
International Medical Corps is facilitating economic recovery training programs to give flood-affected women the tools to achieve financial independence. Before the flood, many women picked cotton or sold hand-embroidered crafts to generate income. However, the floods destroyed much of the cotton crop, leaving many women unemployed. Since embroidery skills are handed down through generations, International Medical Corps teams implemented an embroidery training program to improve their existing skills, raise income levels and boost confidence.
We are providing women with the raw materials to jumpstart their businesses and are working with local businesses, to facilitate the sale of the embroidered products.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
International Medical Corps continues to work with the people of Pakistan to prepare for the 2011 monsoon season that runs from July until September. We are collaborating with Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority to oversee flood-risk analysis and hazard mapping for the areas affected by the 2010 floods. Following the analysis, we will hold a series of preparedness workshops covering disaster scenarios.
Thank you! Your generous support has made the following possible:
In the aftermath of a major disaster, figures often paint a bleak picture of widespread devastation and lives lost. Occasionally, numbers can also show a community on the road to recovery. Since responding to the widespread flooding, our 100 Pakistani medical teams have provided more than 1 million medical consultations to flood victims, ranging from check-ups to lifesaving emergency surgeries.
In addition we have expanded our programs in the hardest hit areas to prioritize long-term recovery. Over the past 8 months we have:
Our commitment is clear: International Medical Corps has been working in Pakistan since 1984 and our long history there has fostered a team of local doctors and experts ready to answer their community's needs. Our response to this tragedy was executed and led by our Pakistani staff and local medical professionals.
With your help in 2010, we responded to a major humanitarian emergency in Pakistan, while continuing our lifesaving medical care and training programs worldwide. Please take a moment to watch what we've accomplished together over the last year.
Since widespread flooding began in Pakistan, 1,985 people have died and as many as 1.7 million homes have been damaged or destroyed, with 20 million people affected. Since responding to the floods in August, our teams have conducted more than 260,000 health consultations. In addition to medical services, we have deployed psychologists and hygiene promoters to address mental health and hygiene needs in the worst affected districts, including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, and Swat. Teams are providing health education on hygiene & sanitation, including the prevention of diarrhea, scabies, and ARI. In addition, we have distributed mini hygiene kits to more than 11,000 people.
“Our priority is getting people desperately needed medical services. We are seeing cases of acute respiratory infection, diarrhea and skin diseases,” said Sonia Walia, International Medical Corps Regional Coordinator for Asia. “With the lack of clean water we are extremely concerned about outbreaks of disease, including cholera. Compounding this tragedy is that many of those affected were already displaced by ongoing conflict in the region, so their mental health needs are also enormous.”
Mental health care is a priority during our emergency relief efforts – we are currently providing psychosocial support including teaching local coping mechanisms to help those whose lives have been devastated by the floods. Psychosocial teams have identified people with depression, anxiety, and significant psychological distress. One of the beneficiaries of our mental health program is Abida, a young Pakistani mother of two. While seeking medical care for her children she described her desperate situation: “our house was flooded and we had nothing to eat for a week, we have not received any support from anyone yet.”
Like many Pakistanis affected by the floods, the emotional impact of this disaster had visibly taken its toll on the 20-year-old. As psychosocial support and Psychological First Aid is an integral part of all of International Medical Corps’ emergency health programs, our psychologist was available to offer Abida psychosocial support sessions to help her deal with her stress.
Like most of her neighbors, Abida’s house was damaged by floods and is still surrounded by floodwater. Since her husband, an agricultural worker, is unemployed with no source of income due to flood-destroyed crops, the family does not have the resources to repair their home. International Medical Corps provided Abida’s family with medical care and family and individual counseling sessions. Our psychologist also taught Abida relaxation techniques to deal with her enormous stress.
“You are the first person I met who has listened to me and taken interest in my problems, I am feeling much more relaxed after talking to you and I am very thankful to you,” said Abida following her session.
To date, our teams have conducted individual and group sessions for approximately 8,378 individuals, many under the age of 12. We have been operating in Pakistan since 1984, providing primary health care services and water/sanitation facilities to displaced Pakistanis as well as to Afghan refugees in the frontier areas. Thank you so much for your continued support – our work in Pakistan is possible because of our incredible supporters.
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