Imagine being ill and no doctor is within reach! Even before the monsoon floods of 2010, not everyone in the Swat district had access to appropriate primary health care services. Malteser International has been aware of that fact since the civil crisis of 2009, when it started supporting the region’s health system with medical teams and capacity building. After the flash floods in August 2010, the situation worsened – and Malteser International immediately increased its activities in the sector.
Malteser International is currently assisting the health authorities in Swat with up to five medical support teams. These teams consist of one doctor, one lady health visitor (a female health professional who works exclusively with female patients), one dispenser and one or two social mobilisers, who promote good health and hygiene behaviour. They support the governmental teams at the Basic Health Units several days per week; when they are not at the health units, the medical teams go out to remote villages and conduct mobile “clinics” in schools or mosques. 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-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:||August 2010 until end of April 2011|
|Financing:||Federal Foreign Office (Germany), Germany’s Relief Coalition, World Health Organisation, 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