It's been quite a busy and eventful beginning to 2009 for CDRS. In 2008, the five CDRS managed health facilities operating in Pakistan Administered Kashmir's District Muzaffarabad (and one in District Poonch) successfully managed 97,728 patient contacts, and CDRS launched a new program designed to gradually build an effective, internally funded and self-sustainable healthcare system for the poor and rural communities we serve.
74% of CDRS patients last year were Females (38%) and children 14 and under (36%). Please see 2008 Diagnosis and Patient Contact Statistical Reports, downloadable in this update
To read about The CDRS Community Based Self Sustainability Healthcare Project, go to:
Road Blockages due to landslides and snow have been even more of a problem this winter than last. The weather conditions have presented many difficulties in transporting patients and delivering medicines to the health facilities we serve in the very mountainous and remote areas. Even though CDRS pre-positions as many supplies and medicines as possible, shortages occur when the roads are blocked for extended periods. Electricity is normally out for 15-20 hours a day during the winter, and completely out during weather events. We have generators and backup fuel but couldn't use our generators for several days in January when fuel stores were exhausted and the combination of landslides and a district-wide fuel shortage stopped fuel deliveries for two weeks. Communications became difficult to impossible when phone lines, dial-up internet and cell phone towers were out of service for days at a time. In spite of these difficulties, our medical staff continued to treat patients and most essential medicines were available in our pharmacy.
One Of The Many CDRS Success Stories:
One young patient by the name of Junaid has responded miraculously to our interventions. In October of last year, Junaid's Father came to me asking for help, saying his 11 year old son had been paralyzed after being buried in the rubble of his home during the October 2005 earthquake. I brought Dr. Rizwan Shabir with me to Junaid's home to examine him. Though he had sustained a head injury and endured bacterial meningitis, Dr. Shabir determined that Junaid was not paralyzed but desperately needed an extensive program of physical therapy. After more than three months of intensive physical therapy, home schooling (CDRS pays for a teacher to visit Junaid 6 days a week, three hours per day) and special leg braces, I am happy to report that Junaid is now able to walk with support, has become much more limber and mobile in his joints, is able to go to the bathroom instead of wearing a diaper. Junaid has also made significant progress with his schoolwork and we hope to send him to school as soon as he's ready. CDRS purchased new clothes for Junaid, as well as toys, books, school supplies and learning games for him and his 4 brothers and sisters. I wish that Junaid's Father had brought him to me sooner, but the bottom line is that a beautiful child who was living as a prisoner in his own body, emotionally withdrawn, immobile and in pain has really come back to life and is on his way to fulfilling his potential to be a happy and productive member of his community.
Other January/February 2009 News Of Note:
CDRS received a plaque of honor from The Muzaffarabad Citizens Forum, The Pakistan Red Crescent and Rise, commemorating three years of services to the people of District Muzaffarabad. The award, the fourth that CDRS has received for its work in the earthquake affected areas, was presented by Ms. Anne Aarnes, Mission Director for USAID Pakistan.
Weather conditions have slowed the implementation of The CDRS Community Based Self Sustainability Healthcare Project, however, we still managed to create 40 village health committees while also concentrating efforts on educating the people of Chikar Union Council about the importance of the plan to the community's future.
CDRS presented another in a series of Health Fairs for children at our main facility in Chikar. The health fairs involve staff and children performing entertaining skits that educate children and families on important health and hygiene practices. CDRS Staff pulled off another great event with an awesome example of the teamwork that has made CDRS such a treasured and trusted part of the community. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful on the day of the event, which was attended by about three hundred people. Adam B. Ellick, a reporter from the New York Times, also attended and filmed the event. A New York Times news article and short documentary film about CDRS will be coming out March.
My staff and I hope you will continue to support CDRS and its efforts to use our long term response to the earthquake as an opportunity to build an effective healthcare system to serve the people of Pakistan. Brand new hospital buildings don't help anyone unless the system inside those buildings is working properly- at this point, I prefer to have a shack with a good doctor, staff, working ambulance, supplies, medicines and operational budget that have a beautiful, empty, ineffective and insulting brand new hospital building funded by a compassionate and well meaning but ultimately shortchanged donor.
Please feel free to send your comments and feedback about this report.