Doctors Without Borders (MSF), a global network of medical and other professionals who specialise in medical humanitarian work, has gone into action in Pakistan to assist several efforts following the devastating floods in the country.
More than 70 per cent of Pakistan has been flooded, causing widespread destruction, leaving over 1 000 people dead, over 1 500 injured, more than one million houses destroyed or damaged, and at least 33 million people affected. This follows as the country experienced twice the usual monsoon rainfall, while Balochistan and Sindh provinces had seen more than four times the average of the last three decades.
In Balochistan, 31 districts out of 33 have been severely affected. Areas around Dera Murad Jamali (DMJ) have experienced significant flooding over the last two weeks. Our Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams, including staff who’ve had their own homes flooded, responded quickly to provide primary healthcare to people congregating on the roads and in schools. Many people who’ve lost their homes have set up makeshift shelters along or near the roadways.
We are responding and assessing the humanitarian crisis across all four provinces of Pakistan – Balochistan, Sind, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We have started mobile clinics in DMJ, providing primary healthcare and health promotion activities and referrals to the MSF-supported District Headquarters hospital, DMJ. Most of the patients treated have presented with respiratory infections, fever, skin diseases and diarrhoea.
“Mostly, we are seeing patients with complaints of fever, malaria, acute watery diarrhoea and skin infections due to unhygienic conditions,” says MSF Doctor, Ruby Tariq, in Pakistan.
Our mobile clinics are running daily. We have visited three locations around DMJ and providing non-food items (NFIs), including soaps, buckets, cooking utensils, and mosquito nets), and set up water points to provide drinking water. Our teams are also screening for malnutrition and have seen children from our Ambulatory Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ATFC) activities in the mobile clinics. So far, the volume of patients has not been huge, especially in the first couple of days, but this is likely due to access issues, with many towns and villages cut off by the floodwater. We also have projects in Quetta and Chaman, closer to the border with Afghanistan. The team has set up emergency water distribution points in Quetta city and donated approximately 300 non-food item kits. In Chaman, our team has begun fixing damaged water pipes, distributing NFIs and has started a mobile clinic.
We are also assessing the needs in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab province and Charsadda and Nowshehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
An urgent scale-up of the response is needed from humanitarian groups and others, based on the estimated numbers of people affected. Access to clean water and shelter are the most pressing needs.
With the rain expected to continue over the monsoon season, long-term steps must be taken to safeguard the communities who are now displaced and languishing in areas that remain prone to further flooding.
With roads and access points completely flooded, food and other supplies are dwindling. There is a dire need for adequate water and sanitation to prevent the widespread outbreak of disease. An increase of vector-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria, are expected. Our teams are currently assessing the needs and are preparing accordingly.
- Issued by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Visit https://www.msf.org