International Medical Corps has now provided more than 100,000 health consultations to survivors of the floods in Pakistan through local teams delivering emergency medical care. The floods have affected more than 20 million people, destroying homes and making access to health care extremely difficult. Government facilities, which were barely able to fulfill local health needs even before the disaster, were badly damaged and medicines and vital supplies lost to floodwaters. Access to private healthcare practitioners, which was unaffordable for many even before the floods, was further restricted as many lost their sources of income due to destruction of crops and businesses.
International Medical Corps was among the first organizations to deploy local medical teams to the hardest hit areas in Pakistan. Currently 66 International Medical Corps mobile and static medical teams are providing healthcare services in 15 flood affected districts in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) provinces.
In Akora Khattak, District Nowshera in KPK, the Civil Hospital was flooded and remained under several feet of water for weeks. Medicines and critical equipment were lost in the floods and the hospital remained closed until International Medical Corps’ team, by request of the Provincial Health Department, restored the facility and began providing primary healthcare services.
International Medical Corps’ Dr. Zainab recalls one woman, 32-year-old Ajab, who arrived at the hospital in an advanced stage of labor with her first child. Although deliveries were not being performed at Civil Hospital, there was no time to transport Ajab 40 minutes away to District Hospital in Nowshera.
Ajab’s relatives say they could not afford to go to a private clinic or arrange transport to the main District Hopital and there was no other functioning government health facility accessible in the area. “We have only 100 rupees for the delivery and for her care,” one of her relatives explained. “We were worried and do not know what would have happened if the International Medical Corps team had not helped us at this critical moment.”
Dr. Zainab and International Medical Corps staff worked quickly to arrange a bed and blankets in one of the empty rooms in the hospital and provided a delivery kit as they prepared for the birth. Under Dr. Zainab’s care, Ajab successfully delivered a healthy baby girl. “The delivery …was a complete success for our staff to arrange everything with such little time,” said Dr. Zainab. The patient was stabilized and was advised to breastfeed her child. Ajab regularly visits International Medical Corps’ clinic for postnatal care and checkups for her baby.
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.