UN Secretary General has called the devastation in Pakistan the the worst he has ever seen. “This has been a heart-wrenching day for me,” he said after touring the affected area over the weekend. “I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today. In the past I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this."
The floods began more than two weeks ago and have hit about one-quarter of the country. Tracks of land remain under water, and hundreds more homes were flooded over the weekend. While the death toll of 1,500 is small compared to other disasters, the extent of the flooding and number of people whose lives have been disrupted is staggering. The Pakistan governement is now reporting that upto 20 million have been displaced and made homeless and 1.7 million acres of farmland has been destroyed. Many survivors are now living in muddy camps or overcrowded government buildings, while thousands more are sleeping in the open next to their cows, goats and whatever possessions they managed to drag with them.
The U.N. has appealed for an initial $460 million to provide relief, but only 20 percent has been given. "Waves of flood must be met with waves of support from the world," said Ban. "I'm here to urge the world to step up assistance," he said.
According to the international aid group Oxfam, ten days after the Kashmir quake, donors gave or pledged $292 million. The Jan. 12 disaster in Haiti led to pledges nearing $1 billion within the first 10 days. For Pakistan, the international community gave or pledged $150 million after the flooding began in earnest in late July, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Here is a series of recent reports from the field:
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Village: Daang Kalay, Tangi
On Wednesday, the team went to the Daang kalay village. The team comprises two doctors (Dr. Haidar Ali & Dr. Naveed) and two paramedics from CDRS. We saw a total number of 160 patients there, which were mostly males, and mainly skin diseases, respiratory infections, and gastroenteritis all caused by dirty stagnant flood water. The majority of people in the area also suffer from dehydration due to the hot weather and lack of clean water supplies.
In one case, a young female presented to Dr. Naveed with fungal dermatis which was worsened due to the constant water. She was advised of preventive measures and given anti-fungal oral and topical treatments. Similarly, a young man presented to me complaining of dizziness, vertigo and diarrhea. We found his blood pressure to be very low and treated him with medicines and fluida via i/v.
Additionally, we delivered water purification tablets to the people and also vaccinated people against typhoid, cholera, and influenza.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Village: Beyar Garhi, Tangi
Thursday was the 1st day of Ramadan, and our team went to the village of Beyar Ggarhi which was affected by flood waters on the 1st of August. After 13 days, we were the first medical team to have reached there. The whole of the village was damaged by the flood except, luckily, the mosque. We found that all of their water wells were full of mud, streets were full of bricks and debris of damaged walls.
Our team established a camp in the mosque and area people were very happy when they heard about it. Our team was the same as the day before, and we treated a total number of 120 patients there. The majority of patients here were female. The majority of issues were skin diseases due to dirty stagnant flood water, followed by respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis.
Drinkable water is also scarce in the area and we saw a lot of dehydration as in the other camps. An old female presented to Dr. Naveed with dehydration and was refusing to maintain an i/v line as she was fasting. She was counseled and her i/v line was maintained and give water purification tablets to take home. Similarly, a young female presented to me with a penetrating nail injury when she was on the way to camp. The nail was removed from her foot, given a wound dressing and tetanus toxoid and pain killers.
We also delivered water purification tablets to the villagers to prevent any outbreaks of disease and vaccinated the people against typhoid, cholera, and influenza.
Saturday, August 14th, 2010
Village: Mian Sahib Garhi
Like all of the areas affected by the flood waters, Mian Sahib Garhi has no drinkable water and has not had electricity for the past 14 days. Our medical teams saw a total of 101 patients, primarily with respiratory tract infections, gastroentritis and skin diseases. There were also cases of malaria and typhoid seen. We vaccinated children and adults against cholera, typhoid and teatnus and packed up the camp at noon.
Sunday, Aug 15th, 2010
Village Gul Abad, Tehsil Tangi, District Charsadda.
UM Healthcare and CDRS have been one of the first teams to start working in the region of Charsadda. The davastation in Charsaada had been massive, however the pace of relief work is slow.
On Thursday, the team went to Gul Abad village in Tangi Tehsil. This is one of the villages that has been ravaged by the flood waters, leaving many homeless who are now staying with their relatives or in neighboring houses that are still standing. Some who have no place to go have turned to government provided camps in schools.
Our visit was coordinated by UM Hospital’s administrator Mr. Haji Sher Akbar through Mr. Nisar (Ex-Nazim of Mandani), who arranged our stay. Even as we were travelling towards the camp site, there was heavy rainfall along the way which continued during our medical camp. Though this made it a bit diffcult for the families to reach us, most of them made it to our site.
We had set up camp in Government High School Gul Abad, where a number of affected families had sought refuge. The principal of the school helped us with arrangements and logistics. First we treated all of the families that were residing in the school itself and there was still time in the day, so we asked the principal to notify another neighboring school, the Government Primary School in Gulabad where some more families were staying. We treated patients from that school too and vaccinated vulnerable patients against Tetanus.
One of our patients was a child with abscesses in both axillae (armpits) and a high grade fever. He had previously been treated with antibiotics at another camp but no one had observed his axillae. Although the child was apprehensive, we counseled him and drained both abscesses.
Total Patients treated 100:
Peds (male) 13
Paeds (female) 12
After providing medications we also distributed rations among the families. The items included bottled water, biscuits, and formula milk for infants etc. We came back in the evening to our hospital in Zahidabad.
What we are doing?
We could not stop the flood but we can mitigate the second wave of deaths from starvation and disease! Please help UM Trust and Shine Humanity in providing urgent medical relief, deploying doctors, distributing food and ensuring a supply of clean drinking water. We are working closely with a consortium of local monprofits to re-establish Maternal and Pediatric Health services to the Distrcit HQ Hospital in Charsadda and to the Mother/Child Health Center in Bagh Deri, Swat.
"Why should we care?"
In a recent article, writer and activist Ethan Casey asks the question, "Why should we care?" Casey says: “We can, and I do, blame “the media,” but that’s unhelpful and ultimately a cop-out. Each of us individually has the opportunity and responsibility to be aware of every tragedy in our world, and we should be willing to exert ourselves to redress them. We’re all in this together. But the real problem is that there’s too much tragedy, and it’s happening too fast, and these days Americans are distracted and confused and worried about serious problems close to home, like our own jobs and mortgages.”
"A related point is that we Americans owe Pakistanis a measure of basic human respect and compassion, as well as gratitude specifically for the sacrifices they’ve made at our behest in several wars in Afghanistan. When we repay this debt, it will also redound to our benefit." To read the whole article, please read:
Flood Disaster “the most challenging any country has faced in recent years...” says UN humaniratian chief
In a recent statement appealing for more aid to Pakistan, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said: “While the death toll may be much lower than in some major disasters, taking together the vast geographical area affected, the numbers of people requiring assistance and the access difficulties currently affecting operations in many parts of the country, it is clear that this disaster is one of the most challenging that any country has faced in recent years."
Thousands of people are camped out on roads, bridges and railway tracks - any dry ground they could find - often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps a plastic sheet to keep off the rain. ''I have no utensils. I have no food for my children. I have no money,'' said survivor, sitting on a rain-soaked road in Sukkur along with hundreds of other people. ''We were able to escape the floodwaters, but hunger may kill us.''
UM Healthcare Trust together with Shine Humanity has been on the ground since August 4th, and is running medical relief camps as well as providing clean drinking water, water treatment solutions, baby formula, and other dry foodstuffs. The team of seven medical staff and 15 volunteers have seen over 1,700 patients. Patients were suffering from various waterborne diseases have been treated. Children are suffering from diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. Skin diseases and other ailments are spreading in the flood-hit areas primarily due to the consumption of contaminated water.
In a recent report, Dr. Qasim Nasr, Medical Officer Incharge, UM Healthcare Trust said: “UM Healthcare partnered with Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Abbottabad, Disaster Relief by Irish and Pakistanis (DRIP), and Shine Humanity a combined medical camp in Nowshera. This camp was aimed at vaccinating and treating those flood affectees who had not been targeted by a medical team before. The team brought along an ambulance filled with medicines, food items, vaccines, bottled water and hygiene items, and the vaccines (against Tetanus and Typhoid) were generously donated. This time, due to the rain, we set up our armamentarium inside the school premises and vaccinated a total of 85 patients in about 2 hours.
“At the Church we were informed about another minority community nearby in Loya Wera, which had some flood affected families living that had not received vaccinations. We moved on to this locality after we had completed the vaccination campaign at Christ Church. Loya Wera is a small gated community home to about 20 Hindu families, situated in the middle of a busy market, a couple of kilometers away from Christ Church. Upon arrival we were welcomed by the community elders. We started right away by registering and vaccinating the flood affected people living there with the host families, and over 40 people including children were vaccinated there.
“Our next stop was Government Primary School No. 2, in Badrashi village which lies on the outskirts of Nowshera. Here, we were surprised to know that for more than ten days there had been no medical camp. Thus there were more ill people at this camp than we have seen at others. There had been no food support for the camp since morning and they had been making arrangements through community support. We distributed as many food items, water, formula milk and ration as we had with us among the affectees.
“It appears that most residents are constantly exposed to flood water even now and are exposed to greater amounts of infectious diseases from the cramped living conditions in relief camps. We observed this in our camp, as the major bulk of disease was diarrheal and respiratory illnesses. We counseled residents about better hygiene practices and the need for frequent hand washing as a precaution against acquiring or transmitting diseases.
There are still a lot of communities that haven’t received adequate support on medical or food side and we are working with our partners to target as many of them as possible.”
In an e-mail, Todd Shea, COO of Shine Humanity added: “These floodwaters are so nasty that my only pair of shoes has finally met its match and my feet are itching like crazy from being knee deep in mud most of today- But I will say this: I haven't seen the international agencies in the areas I've worked I'm sure they are on the way and gearing up for a massive effort, but I haven't seen it yet, nor have any of the people that our three medical teams and field partners (UM Healthcare) are serving because they often tell us they haven't recieved much of anything from anyone other than a few small organizations.”
The Challenge Ahead
There is a desperate need to send more well-equipped medical teams to the flood-hit areas to prevent the further spread of disease. The victims of the flood have lost everything and cannot cope with potential epidemics on their own. The delivery of vaccines and medicine to all the flood-affected areas, especially in remote parts, is a priority. It must be ensured that the medicine is not substandard or past the expiry date. Also water treatment solutions are critical and make it suitable for drinking. Proper sanitation facilities for the flood-affected people are also vital.
How you can help
We are renewing our appeal for funds to facilitate the purchase of food; provide clean drinking water; tents and plastic sheeting; and other dry food items. Please donate generously - these items are available in the open market and we need your help to scale up the distribution of humanitarian assistance. We also need more doctor and medical teams on the ground to serve the most hard to serve areas.
To volunteer, please fill out this form on-line:
Once your information has been processed, our Volunteer Coordinator will contact you. Please rest assured that all of your information will remain confidential. Only our Volunteer Coordinator will access your information. If you have additional questions, please contact Laila Karamally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 6th, 2010
As the possibility of more rains loom and the flood waters rage southwards to Sindh province, one Pakistani villager asks BBC reporter, Lyce Doucet, “Where is the world?” The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the medical and humanitarian fall-out will only worsen over the next few days and weeks as is the nature of disasters of this nature, with large-scale displacement of people, toxic living conditions, and destruction of livelihoods. WHO also reports that of the 40 or so nonprofits on the ground currently involved in relief efforts, only six are focused on medical relief.
UM Healthcare Trust and CDRS are ramping up to deal with the mounting crisis.We are moving our camps around where we are needed the most. Overall, since August 1st, the joint UM Trust-CDRS mission has seen over 1,100 patients and are managing four field medical relief camps. The team consists of three doctors and four support staff. The following are a series of field updates from UM Trust Executive Director, Atif Mumtaz and field staff:
August 5th, 2010: “The devastation in Charsadda is one of the worst we have seen so far. Complete villages have been wiped out, roads, bridges and barrages have been obliterated by the fast moving flood water. Little help has reached this region and people are still suffering. The water current was so fast that it even destroyed complete barrages built on the rivers to control the flow of water. Where once brick and mortar buildings including government schools and residences of hundreds of people stood, now only the debris litters the flood land.
UM Trust together with CDRS set up a medical relief camp at Charsadda. The team consisted of a medical doctor (Dr. Naveed) from UM Healthcare assist by CDRS medical team that consisted of two EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) and one O.T. (Operating Theater) technician.Today alone a total of 113 patients were treated at the camp.The local community was extremely cooperative and had helped us setup our camp at the Tangi High School which was the main relief camp hosting over 300 people.
The conditions for the affectees is beginning to get worse. The hygienic conditions are deteriorating, and infectious diseases like scabies and water borne diseases outbreak is imminent."
August 4th, 2010: “UM Healthcare’s mobile medical relief team went to the Christ Church in
Nowshera Cantt. today. Adjacent to the Christ Church lies The Christ Church Educational Centre, a building which has two schools in it. Although the refugees were staying at the educational centre, the electric supply to it had not been restored. The Principal, Mrs. Qamar Javed welcomed the team and we started operating in a side room of the church building which was more convenient for logistic reasons. The school houses about 20 families with about 85 residents. Some of the residents had gone to their respective flood devastated houses to salvage belongings since there have been news recently of looting in the abandoned houses. Thus the number of patients we saw was a bit less than we had anticipated.
There were some interesting observations. One 30 year old patient said he had never been to a doctor before, so I had to give him a full physical torule out any other pathologies and advised him to have some lab tests done. A lady suffering from epileptic seizures had not ever had
any medication for her seizures, rather she had been advised by a quack to have an exorcism done. The alarming symptoms of her illness were cause of much concern to her children so I counseled the whole family together about the emergency steps to take in case of a seizure and gave them insight into the disease pathophysiology to dispel some of their notions.
After the camp Mr. Tahir Tariq gave us a visit of the Educational Complex to help us understand the living conditions of the families residing there. The school has provided them with utensils and daily rations but the families have to cook the food for themselves. The camp is hygienic, but since many of the affectees risk exposure to flood water when they return to check on their houses, they need to be vaccinated. UM Healthcare is collaborating with partners to procure sufficient vaccines for all residents."
Scale of Disaster
The flood affected region is vast, and the aid that has reached those affected is minimal. The UM Trust/CDRS team while treating patients in Noshehra and Pabbi district, also spent considerable time exploring, assessing and cataloging the damage caused by the floods. An estimated five million people are directly affected by the disaster and death toll is rising daily. At last estimate over 100 towns and villages were inundated with floods and many located near the banks of the rivers have been wiped out of existence. There is widespread damage and the human suffering is growing by the day as the water has not receded to normal levels even after a week of original flooding.
Survivors battling severe conditions
There is no fresh water, no food, no electricity, no mobile service, nothing of note in these areas. The crops are destroyed, water wells are contaminated and most of the cattle is either dead or missing. The only thing that is widespread is the foul stench of decaying corpses (animals and humans) and muddy water carrying deadly diseases.
The first government sponsored relief camps are beginning to pop up. Mostly people are fending for themselves and trying to piece together their lives by helping each other. News is still coming in of areas that have not seen any help at all and remain cut off from the teams working in the area.
UM Trust/CDRS Operations
UM Healthcare Trust is now supporting three field facilities (Noshera, Charsadda, Risalpur and Pabbi) in addition to staffing up its main hospital in District Mardan. Over 120 patients were seen in the first day alone. CDRS, (the field operator of Shine Humanity, USA) is providing mobile health outreach, logistical and medical support services, alongwith humanitarian aid supplies, volunteers and donated medicines. The joint relief effort includes supply of potable water which, includes packed mineral water, and medical service on the spot. Our teams will also distribute some instant food and fruit juices to the old and children (biscuits, bread, juices, etc.).
Families returning to broken homes need a reasonable supply of dry rations of food such as cooking oil, flour, pulses, sugar, dry and fresh(packed) milk,etc . The immediate big demand is for cooked meals to be prepared close to settlements by order and distributed fresh hot. Survivors also need clothing as all their possessions are gone.
How You Can Help
At present, relief supplies and medicines are available in the open market in Islamabad. Funds are needed to purchase the supplies and truck them to the affected areas. Funds are also needed to support medical teams with equipment, accommodation, food, transportation and communications. Prospective volunteers should contact us at email@example.com.
UM Healthcare Trust Executive Director featured on CNN
Atif Mumtaz, was interviewed by CNN, and the project was posted on CNN.com on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's website:
http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/02/makeshift-clinics-caring-for-pakistan-flood-survivors/. Mumtaz was also interviewed on BBC, a link to which will be posted shortly.
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