International Medical Corps’ staff is on the ground in Pakistan providing medical services along with psychosocial support to help people whose lives have been devastated by the floods.
Heavy monsoon rains in the last week of July triggered flash floods in several parts of Pakistan resulting in widespread destruction and displacement. An estimated 1,500 have lost their lives and more than 1.5 million have been displaced, with over 12 million affected. International Medical Corps immediately deployed mobile medical teams in the most severely affected Charsadda, Peshawar and Nowshehra Districts to provide emergency services. In addition to medical care to address basic health needs, teams are working to strengthen local coping mechanisms.
In Charsadda, International Medical Corps met Abid, a 14-year-old boy, who saw his grandmother drown during the floods and is now experiencing grief. “I cannot forget that moment, I am constantly getting flashbacks and even in dreams I see water going up and I wake up screaming,” said Abid. “I am happy that I am safe but I am also sad that my home and school were destroyed”. International Medical Corps’ local staff members are trained in psychological first aid and are able to provide access to basic services and support to those experiencing normal reactions to disasters – fear, anger, grief and a range of other emotions – and to address each case with sensitivity.
In a school in Peshawar – where more than 2,100 individuals have taken refuge – International Medical Corps met with a mother of 5 who recalled what her family had endured during the floods. “When the floodwater entered our house, we were all in a panic. Manahil [her 4-year-old daughter] saw my elder daughter Amina being swept away by the floodwater. She was saved and pulled out of the water, but since then, she is afraid of the water when I am bathing her and gets very restless when she is alone”. International Medical Corps is now helping the woman care for Manahil and Amina by teaching her basic relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety.
International Medical Corps makes mental health care a priority in its emergency relief efforts by addressing the immediate psychosocial needs of communities struck by disaster and offering help to those with pre-existing mental health disorders. The organization’s teams in Pakistan are comprised of local, trained staff members who can communicate in the local language and understand the cultural context of the situation.