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 District, Charsadda 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 District, Charsadda 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 Tehsil: Tangi District, Charsadda 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: Males 47 Females 28 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: http://www.ethancasey.com/2010/08/pakistan-floods-why-should-we-care/
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