Pakistan: MSF Providing Services to Flood Victims, Supporting Local Health Centers, Assessing Needs

MSF is delivering medical aid and humanitarian assistance to a growing number of people affected by the flooding while also continuing to assess needs.

Pakistan 2010 © MSF

An MSF distribution point in Baktirabad, Baluchistan province, northwest Pakistan.

According to official figures, more than 3 million people have been directly affected and more than 1,500 have died in the floods that have ravaged two northern provinces in Pakistan. More rains are expected in the coming days and could cause renewed flooding and create problems in areas that have up until now been unaffected. But some areas initially affected are becoming more accessible as some of the water recedes.

While delivering much-needed medical and humanitarian assistance, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins San Frontières (MSF) teams are also continuing to assess needs in the Malakand and Peshawar Divisions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and in several places in Baluchistan province. It is suspected that some isolated communities have not yet been reached by anyone providing assistance. A helicopter assessment is taking place today, August 5, and more will follow in the coming days.

In addition to the expansion of its medical activities, MSF’s priority is providing clean water and improving hygienic conditions in order to prevent the spread of acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, and skin infections. MSF teams are also preparing to respond rapidly in the event of an outbreak of a waterborne disease such as cholera.

In Charsadda, mobile clinics started providing primary care on August 4, reaching some 1,400 people. The team will expand mobile units so they can reach more people in the coming days. The mobile clinics are also an opportunity to identify new groups of people in need of other kinds of support such as clean water and hygiene items.

Water points were set up in Charsadda, in Lower Dir, and in eight localities in Swat to serve a total of approximately 100,000 beneficiaries. In addition, MSF is also providing clean water to the district hospital in Lower Dir.

In Tangi, north of Charsadda, MSF has identified families who have lost their houses and are now taking shelter in schools. Health needs are covered, but MSF is planning to distribute hygiene, shelter and kitchen kits. More distributions will take place in the next few days for thousands of affected families in rural areas of Nowshera and Peshawar districts. MSF outreach teams are supporting health centers in the area around Peshawar as well, while other teams are working to improve access to clean water in Nowshera.

Also in Nowshera, MSF started supporting the Pabbi Satellite hospital on August 1. The MSF medical team performs an average of 275 consultations per day, mainly for skin disease and acute diarrhea.

MSF has also been supporting the Nowshera district hospital since August 2, focusing on the emergency room and the outpatient department. MSF is planning also to provide electricity and drinking water and then to hand over a functional hospital to the health authorities. Three ambulances have also been provided, ensuring around 10 referrals per day so far.

MSF has distributed tents and hygiene kits to about 750 families in Bakhtirabad, one of the worst affected towns in Baluchistan. In Fadfedar canal, also in Baluchistan, MSF teams distributed hygiene kits, cooking sets, and jerrycans to 250 families. More distributions are planned in the same area and will include chlorine tablets to clean water and mosquito nets to prevent malaria infection.

Assessments in different parts of Baluchistan are still taking place, but large pockets of people in need of humanitarian assistance have already been identified around Manjoshori and Kabula and elsewhere. MSF is planning to distribute tents and hygiene kits to around 20,000 families in Baluchistan, and two mobile clinics will be providing care in the province.

Cargo planes will depart from Europe at the end of the week carrying 90 tons of drugs, cholera kits, and water and sanitation material.