Himalaya – the name evokes impressive silhouettes of snow-peaked mountains. But life for the people living in these remote, high valleys is often difficult – especially when it comes to access to health care services. After the monsoon floods in summer 2010, some areas became even more isolated, and reaching medical help became a greater challenge. To help improve the Himalayan people’s access to health care, Malteser International is assisting the local health authorities in Kohistan in their work.
Malteser International has sent medical staff to three Basic Health Units in Palas, a tehsil (county) in the Kohistan district. Their main task is not only to provide medical treatment to the sick and injured, but also to help prevent health problems, detect the outbreak of diseases and minimise the health risks of infectious diseases.
After the completion of the emergency relief phase, prevention and mother and child health care will become the primary focus of Malteser International’s medical work as part of a capacity building project in the same project area.
It was the worst flooding since recordkeeping in today’s Pakistan began: In July and August 2010, massive monsoon rainfall made the rivers in Pakistan swell rapidly. In the north of the country, flash floods of the mountain rivers washed away everything that was built or stored too close to the river beds: bridges and roads, houses and belongings. Mud- and landslides blocked roads and the communication infrastructure was destroyed in many locations.
In the south of Pakistan, the run-off from rainfall in the mountainous north led to a wave along the Indus River which flooded vast parts of the lowland for several months, displacing hundreds of thousands people from their homesteads. Everywhere in the affected areas, people lost their income as fields were covered with mud, most of the harvest was destroyed and livestock perished. More than 20 million people were affected by the floods; 1,750 people died.
The overall damage can only roughly be estimated and is unimaginably high. The reconstruction efforts will take several years – as will Malteser International’s commitment for relief activities. Our overall aim is to “build back better”: to assist the communities in improving their living conditions to an even higher level than that prior to the flood, while, at the same time, raising their resilience towards future incidents – whether they are natural or man-made disasters.
Malteser International has been working in Pakistan since the earthquake of October 2005. Its main areas of intervention have been and will remain in the sectors of health and disaster preparedness. With their long-term presence in the country, Malteser International’s teams will also be able to react quickly after new emergency situations.
|Duration:||December 2010 until end of May 2011|
|Financing:||Germany’s Relief Coalition, Malteser International|Contact Malteser International: Christof Ruhmich info(at)malteser-international.org
Ajbiv Bibi: grateful for Malteser International’s help. Discover her story! Photo: Jorge Scholz