Immediately following the devastating 2010 floods in Pakistan, International Medical Corps mobilized local teams to begin providing comprehensive primary healthcare, water, sanitation, hygiene and mental health services to the flood affected population. We are currently operating 114 medical units serving Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Punjab and Sindh provinces where in many cases our teams are the only source of health care services for the local population. One of the first NGOs to provide emergency response after the floods, International Medical Corps mobilized medical teams in Pakistan with support from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).
Due to stagnant floodwaters, poor sanitation conditions and contaminated drinking water, our doctors are seeing the prevalence of acute respiratory infections, skin infections and diarrheal diseases which if left untreated could prove fatal. The experiences of Pakistanis like Aamoo, Khalid and Abbas, whose stories are featured below, are emblematic of the conditions International Medical Corps’ health clinics are seeing everyday in the underserved region.
Yaqoob Munaro, District Thatta
Sixty-year-old Aamoo was brought to International Medical Corps’ clinic based at the Civil Dispensary (CD) after injuring his foot from a fall off his donkey cart. Dr. Nawaz, who leads our team, examined and treated Aamoo’s wound which required 14 stitches. During a follow-up visit, Dr. Nawaz found that the wound had become septic. Aamoo explained, “I’m responsible for my feet getting worse. I had to shift my family and belongings to the camp and had to walk through the stagnant water several times barefooted, I had no other choice.”
Dr. Nawaz cleaned and redressed the wound and asked Aamoo to visit daily for follow-up care. Our health educator also advised him on keeping the wound clean. After several days, the wound began to heal properly and Aamoo can now walk normally again.
Banjot, District Swat
Dr. Amjad, who leads the local International Medical Corps team, examined 12-year-old Khalid. Having fallen from a roof onto a pile of firewood, Khalid was suffering from a significant wound on his back. Dr. Amjad referred Khalid to the District Hospital for an ultrasound. Based on the results and the intense pain Khalid was experiencing, Dr. Amjad found the wound to be septic. With the help of local anesthesia, he examined the wound and found a 6-inch long piece of wood lodged in Khalid’s back. With a successful minor surgery Dr. Amjad removed the splinter. Khalid is now feeling much better and his wound has started to heal.
Dadahara, District Swat
6-year-old Abbas was brought to our health clinic based at the CD. The boy was continuously retching and dry heaving after drinking water from a stream. Upon examining Abbas, International Medical Corps’ Dr. Akhtar found a leech stuck on his uvula, which Abbas had swallowed while drinking the contaminated water. Dr. Akhtar was able to safely remove the leech and Abbas is now healthy.
International Medical Corps has been operating in Pakistan since 1984, providing primary health care services and water/sanitation facilities to displaced Pakistanis as well as to Afghan refugees in the frontier areas.
Since its inception 25 years ago, International Medical Corps’ mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster, and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance.