Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has conducted more than 10,000 medical consultations in Pakistan following catastrophic flooding caused by exceptionally heavy monsoon rains that started in June. It is thought that over 33 million people have been affected and that it could take months for the floodwaters to recede.
Flooding has contaminated the water sources of several villages, and stagnant water can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can spread disease. As a result, MSF teams are seeing a growing number of people with acute watery diarrhea, malaria, and dengue fever, as well as respiratory tract, skin, and eye infections. MSF teams have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of people infected with malaria and are concerned about the current shortage of drugs available to treat those affected.
To help curb the spread of waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases, MSF has distributed more than 5,000 non-food item kits—including hygiene and kitchen kits, mosquito nets, and mosquito repellent—and over 300,000 liters [79,000 gallons] of clean drinking water. This aid is especially important for the millions of people who have been displaced from their homes by the flooding and are living in makeshift and temporary shelters where diseases can spread more quickly given close living conditions.
Some communities affected by the floods remain inaccessible due to widespread damage to roads and bridges and are still waiting for help. MSF teams are trying to reach some of them by boat, as public health facilities have also been significantly affected. This is having an impact on people’s access to health care and ability to seek treatment for chronic diseases or have check-ups, including during pregnancy.
In response to this flooding emergency, MSF is responding in Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
MSF teams are running two mobile clinics providing outpatient consultations in Dera Murad Jamali and Dera Allahyar in districts Naseerabad and Jaffarabad, respectively. Most patients are presenting with malaria, fever, skin diseases, diarrhea, and eye infections. To date, 7,000 people have received medical care. In Chaman, more than 450 people have had medical consultations. In Quetta, more than 800 outpatient consultations have been provided to patients, most of whom have respiratory infections or acute watery diarrhea.
MSF has started running two mobile clinics in the Dadu district of Sindh and has, so far, provided primary medical care to more than 1,500 people—mainly with skin diseases, malaria, and diarrhea. Using boats, MSF teams are still assessing the medical needs in nearby remote villages that have been cut off by the floodwater. Teams have also been providing more than 20,000 liters [5,000 gallons] per day of clean drinking water to people taking shelter at different camps in Dadu district. More water trucks are being arranged to reach the wider population.
In the north of Sindh province, assessments are being done in Sukkur city, and MSF’s water and sanitation teams have already started providing clean drinking water. MSF has installed water tanks with a capacity of 24,000 liters [6,000 gallons], which are being refilled on a daily basis. More than 200,000 liters [52,000 gallons] of water have been provided to displaced people taking shelter in Labour Colony flats and Lab-e-Mehran camp in Sukkur district.
MSF launched three mobile clinics, in Sara sang, Bela, and Miaonlay villages in Charsadda district—villages located next to riverbanks. The houses in these villages have been partially or completely destroyed, and villagers are now facing outbreaks of waterborne diseases. In the last week, MSF medical teams have seen 983 patients with respiratory tract infections, eye infections, acute diarrhea, severe skin infections, and chronic diseases. The teams have distributed non-food items, including hygiene and kitchen kits, mosquito nets, and insect repellent to more than 600 families in the three villages. Water and sanitation needs have been identified, and water storage tanks will be installed in the villages so that people can access clean drinking water.
MSF is planning to start emergency operations in the Nowshera district after assessments by medical and water and sanitation teams.
MSF began working in Pakistan in 1986 and currently has 1,791 locally hired staff and 53 staff from other countries working across seven projects. In addition to this emergency response, MSF has regular health and medical projects in Peshawar, Quetta, Dera Murad Jamali, Chaman, Gujranwala, and Karachi.