14 September 2022 - As the number of cases of diarrhoea, dehydration, respiratory infections, malaria, dengue and skin problems increases at the Aga Khan University’s (AKU) healthcare camps in Pakistan’s flood-affected areas, experts have warned of widespread diseases if the living conditions and healthcare needs of the flood victims are not managed in good time.
The new spell of rain – following torrential downfalls that have triggered massive floods since July and left thousands without shelter – may not only add misery to the victims but also interrupt ongoing healthcare services, according to AKU’s Flood Response Task Force led by Dr Adil Haider, Dean of AKU Medical College and Dr Shahid Shafi, CEO of the Aga Khan University Hospital.
Better living conditions, healthy food, clean drinking water, healthcare facilities and mosquito control should be the top priority in the relief work, stresses the task force.
Another concern is the health of pregnant women. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that over 650,000 pregnant women are in urgent need of maternal health services and whose lives can be improved with timely care.
Sindh province, with a population of 50 million, has been hit hardest, with “471 percent more rain than the 30-year average”, as reported by Reuters on 1 September. Medical workers at the healthcare camps and mobile units are providing care to thousands of people each day across 18 districts of Sindh and Balochistan, including Matiari, Thatta, Dadu, Badin, Qambar Shahdadkot, Sanghar, Naushahro Feroze, Karachi, Lasbella, Qila Abdullah, Chaman and Jafferabad.
Out of 52,000 people who have received care at the camps, 15,000 have been women, including 1,650 pregnant women, and 13,000 children under five. Over 3,700 children have received routine vaccination.
AKU’s task force is working with the federal and provincial governments, local authorities and partners to mobilise medical experts and resources from the University’s sites and hospitals.
It is also organising free capacity-building sessions for healthcare workers serving in the affected areas, which are attended by over 4,000 participants from around the country.
The University is collecting funds to support the healthcare camps, including Rs 6 million ($27,250) donated by faculty, staff and students.
This work is part of the larger AKDN response to the floods. Read more:
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat Responds to Devastating Floods in Pakistan, Mobilising flood relief and rescue in Pakistan, Ismaili Imamat donates $10 million to Pakistan flood relief efforts, Offering hope to women displaced by floods, Healthcare camps provide care to 45,000 people in flood-affected areas of Pakistan