In the aftermath of the recent flooding that has devastated Pakistan, International Medical Corps immediately mobilized local teams to provide emergency relief and assess needs throughout the hardest hit areas. Our deep roots in the country enabled us to mobilize quickly to reach affected populations and begin delivering medical and psychosocial support services. Since 1984, International Medical Corps has been on the ground in Pakistan working in difficult situations in disaster hit areas to provide critically needed emergency services and training for long-term development.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province alone local Pakistanis have experienced a host of man-made and natural disasters in the past few years: the massive earthquake in 2005; the conflict between militants and Pakistani security forces in 2008-09, leading to massive displacement of the population; and most recently, the heaviest floods in the country’s history.
Following the 2008-09 conflict, as the anti-government militants and Pakistani security forces battled for control of Swat, Buner and Lower Dir Districts of KPK, more than 2.5 million people were displaced in the span of a few weeks, with no access to basic resources. International Medical Corps was among the first organizations to begin providing emergency healthcare services to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and followed them to their areas of origin as soon as they were cleared by security forces for repatriation. Despite unstable security conditions, disrupted access routes and continuing clashes between forces, International Medical Corps was able to utilize local networks and valuable experience working in challenging situations in Pakistan to deliver necessary care.
In the conflict-ravaged town of Khawazakhela in KPK, delivering medical care was especially challenging due to the prevalence of pockets of militants and security forces performing search operations to combat them. Despite army check posts and curfews imposed by the government, International Medical Corps was able to reach the needy and deliver vital services. The staff at Civil Hospital in Khawazakhela was decimated, leaving the population of more than 24,000 locals without access to health services. International Medical Corps, in collaboration with government health officials, deployed medical teams and began providing primary healthcare services at the hospital despite adverse security and lack of access. For the first time in several months, the people of Khawazakhela were able to access primary healthcare services.
Following the recent floods in KPK, International Medical Corps, thanks to existing networks and an understanding of the complex terrain and infrastructure, was able to quickly deploy Pakistani medical teams to address emergency needs. Since the majority of health facilities in the most affected districts of Nowshehra, Charsadda and Peshawar were under several feet of water, we continued provision of services under heavy rains through mobile clinics. To date, 16 teams are providing medical care, psychosocial support and hygiene education. Our teams in Pakistan are comprised of local, trained staff members who can communicate in the local language and understand the cultural context of the situation.