Since immediately deploying local teams in July 2010 to respond to the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan, International Medical Corps has provided more than 1.2 million patient consultations through a network of mobile and static health clinics serving the hardest-hit areas.
Today, International Medical Corps continues to prioritize long-term primary health care services, including mental health, to help those who remain without access to vital resources. As needs have shifted from acute emergency relief to long-term health services and capacity-strengthening, International Medical Corps has expanded existing programs in Pakistan to include Nutrition, Protection, Economic Recovery, Livelihood Activities, and Health Facility Rehabilitation.
“Although most of those displaced by the floods have now been able to return to their homes, many are still not able to start a normal life,” says Jehangir Ali Khan, International Medical Corps Country Director for Pakistan. “Flooding has damaged or destroyed more than 1.7 million homes, decimated vital crops and aggravated existing malnutrition levels. What’s more, it has taken away opportunities for people to earn a living and get back on their feet.”
International Medical Corps is supporting 100 health facilities continuing to serve the hardest hit areas in Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPK), Sindh, and Punjab provinces. The clinics provide emergency, preventative and curative health care services for anywhere from 50 to 200 patients per day. In addition, as International Medical Corps prioritizes mental health care in its emergency relief efforts, the organization is also providing psychosocial support services to those affected by the disaster. As displacement and the lack of vital resources persist and recovery from the emotional toll of the disaster is prolonged, the risk for mental health disorders and the need for accessible services have greatly increased. In response, International Medical Corps has identified people with depression, anxiety, and significant psychological distress and provided more than 48,000 psychosocial support sessions to adults and children under 12. In addition, the organization is also running playgroups and art programs for children to help them recover emotionally from the disaster.
In addition to primary and mental health care, International Medical Corps is also running programs to address nutrition, hygiene and economic recovery throughout Pakistan. In Sindh and Punjab, where malnutrition rates increased to alarming levels following the floods, International Medical Corps-supported health facilities are screening children for acute malnutrition and providing curative nutrition services. Teams have also provided more than 1.3 million health and hygiene education sessions throughout KPK, Sindh and Punjab including on the prevention of diarrhea, scabies, and acute respiratory illnesses – conditions that have been greatly exacerbated by stagnant flood waters. International Medical Corps is also running economic recovery training programs to give flood-affected women the tools to achieve financial independence. Since many women in Punjab have embroidery skills handed down through generations, teams implemented an embroidery training program to improve existing skills, raise income levels and boost confidence. Women received raw materials to jumpstart their businesses and International Medical Corps staff contacted local businesses to facilitate the sale of the embroidered products. In the future, the women will be able to work directly with shopkeepers to sell their products without the organization’s support.
To strengthen local capacity, International Medical Corps is supporting the Gynecological/Obstetric and Pediatric wards of the District Headquarters Hospital in Dadu district in Sindh. Since January, teams have conducted more than 4,800 consultations including performing healthy deliveries and antenatal and postnatal consultations. Throughout the Swat and Buner regions, which were already undergoing rehabilitation from a 2009 conflict in the region, International Medical Corps conducted assessments of the flood-affected areas. Government health facilities, along with equipment and supplies, were partially or totally destroyed by flooding, and require urgent rehabilitation. International Medical Corps will work to support health facilities by providing vital supplies and medicines and collaborate with local health authorities for long-term rehabilitation programs.
International Medical Corps has worked in Pakistan since 1984, initially providing basic paramedical training to young Afghan refugees, who then returned home to treat neglected local populations. The organization’s assistance extended in 1999 to the local Pakistani population in volatile frontier areas and in 2005 was among the first to respond to the massive earthquake in the frontier area. Today, International Medical Corps provides primary health care services to internally-displaced Pakistanis in the frontier areas, offers comprehensive basic health services to Afghan refugees who remain on the Pakistani side of the border, operates an emergency obstetrics care center in the city of Peshawar and runs water and sanitation facilities in the tribal areas for internally displaced Pakistanis and Afghan refugees. International Medical Corps currently has more than 750 staff members working in Pakistan – all staff members are nationals except for six expatriates.