International Medical Corps is now providing primary health care and psychosocial services to returnees in Buner in an effort to ensure early recovery assistance for the conflict-stricken region. The organization is the first to provide health services to those returning to their homes in Buner after the conflict that began on May 3.
An International Medical Corps team is providing services within the District Headquarters Hospital in Daggar. In its assessments in Buner, International Medical Corps found the district did not have enough medicine and medical supplies to meet the need as people returned home. As a result, International Medical Corps is providing the hospital with essential medicines and supplies, as well as staff, including female doctors and community health workers who can provide maternal, child, and reproductive health services.
In a period of six hours, hospital staff saw 182 patients, approximately 50 percent of whom were women. Most patients are suffering from acute respiratory infections and acute diarrhea. International Medical Corps is also providing health services at drop-off points designated for families returning to Swarai via government transport.
“As many of those displaced are now slowly returning, it is critical to make sure that conditions are not only safe, but also that basic services are available and accessible,” says Sonia Walia, International Medical Corps Regional Coordinator for Asia. “With much of the region’s infrastructure destroyed, Buner needs immediate and long-termassistance with health care, education, and agriculture to encourage people to stay and begin the process of rebuilding their lives.”
International Medical Corps’ first assessment was deployed Buner on July 1, while a second team was deployed July 13 to assess the return process and provide health care services. Since the initial assessment, traffic to the area has increased, as more and more people begin to return home. However, they are returning to find that much of the basic infrastructure, like roads and telephone and electric lines, and many schools were completely destroyed in the conflict. Most of the region’s water supply systems have been completely destroyed as well, forcing residents to drink from and bathe in contaminated water systems that can cause outbreaks of diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses.
International Medical Corps’ early recovery activities in Buner are the latest addition to its emergency response activities in the region. International Medical Corps teams are also providing 24-hour medical care for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chota Lahore Camp, seeing more than 600 patients each day. International Medical Corps is also operating four mobile medical units in eight union councils of Swabi serving the local populations and the displaced residing in the community.
International Medical Corps also has been providing services to those displaced from related military operations in August 2008 in Peshawar, Nowshehra, Charsadda, and Lower Dir. Its emergency relief efforts reached more than 50,000 people with services like health care, water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion.
Millions of civilians have fled the Swat valley since anti-government forces seized control of Swat’s capital of Mingora on May 3. About a week later the Taliban also pushed into Buner District, an area just 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad. On June 14, the Government of Pakistan began is offensive in South Waziristan, with continued fighting throughout the week. Thousands continue to flee the region.