For locals in Punjab Province in Pakistan, the recent floods have exacerbated an already desperate situation as malnutrition rates are staggering and health services are scarce for rural populations. Many locals suffering from existing health conditions including insufficient nutrition are now being pushed to critical health levels as they combat additional ailments brought on by flooding. In addition to food scarcity and lack of clean drinking water, skin diseases, malaria, TB and anxiety are common issues resulting from the stagnant waters and the great emotional toll brought on by the floods.
Most of the rural poor in Punjab prefer to seek care through traditional religious healers rather than health centers. One of the main reasons for this is lack of accessible and affordable health facilities in the area. By providing emergency health services, psychosocial support and hygiene education, International Medical Corps’ Pakistani doctors and nurses are reaching an extremely underserved population.
For 22-year-old Sumera, International Medical Corps’ team in Punjab delivered relief during an incredibly difficult time. Already a mother to four children, Sumera is pregnant with her fifth, and struggling to find enough food and clean drinking water for her large family. Because she was not able to find sufficient food to eat or clean water since the onset of the floods, she suffered bouts of fainting. A neighbor found her unconscious in the street and brought her immediately to one of our five health clinics in Punjab for emergency treatment. Running a dangerously high-grade fever and showing signs of dehydration, Sumera was given an IV and administered emergency care. The neighbor who brought her in for treatment explained that Sumera’s husband, a day laborer, couldn’t bring her to the hospital for treatment because of the cost involved and the threat of missing a day of work.
“The local dispenser (put) her on steroids and mulfirics in (IV) drip. She is (in) very serious (condition) and needs proper treatment and medicine.” International Medical Corps’ Dr. Faheem said after examining her. He immediately referred Sumera for follow-up care at a nearby Regional Health Center where International Medical Corps has provided a doctor and nurse to deliver ongoing care to the rural flood-affected poor in the region.
Following the floods, International Medical Corps is supporting displaced people through 22 mobile medical teams serving the hardest hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK) in the northwest. Six health centers were also recently opened in Muzaffargarh district in Punjab Province. To date, we have conducted over 73,000 health consultations. In addition, three diarrhea treatment centers were opened in Nowshera and Mardan Provinces where the majority of patients are children.