Medical teams changing lives following floods in Pakistan

Published: 31 August 2011 9:39 CET
  • Roshan Bibi winces from the pain while receiving medical treatment after developing a skin rash during this summer's floods in Badin district, Sindh province Pakistan. IFRC. p-PRK1805
  • An emergency health team with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society provides free medicine to those affected by this summer's floods in Badin district, Sindh province, Pakistan. IFRC. p-PRK1803.
Roshan Bibi winces from the pain while receiving medical treatment after developing a skin rash during the floods in Badin district, Sindh province Pakistan. IFRC. p-PRK1805

By Rabia Ajaib in Pakistan

Roshan Bibi lives with her family in the district of Badin in Sindh province. They have fallen victim to the flash flooding that has hit many Pakistan communities during this monsoon season. Their home was inundated with dirty, muddy water. One of the walls collapsed, injuring Roshan. “I could not get my wounds treated if the Red Crescent health unit did not come to my village,” says Roshan while receiving medicine from staff with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

“I was washing dishes when the wall fell on me,” she says. “My right hand was cut badly. There is no health facility nearby, so I tried homemade solutions to clean the wound.” Instead of healing, however, Roshan’s wound got worse, becoming infected and extremely painful. She could not perform her routine chores.

As part of its response to this year’s flash floods, the PRCS is operating two mobile health units in affected areas. When they arrived in the village 12 days after she had injured her hand, Roshan paid a visit. Dr. Mohammad Shahzad, who treated her wounds, says it was a good thing she did. “It would not have healed if she had delayed proper treatment any longer,” he says.  

After the treatment, Roshan heads to the dispensary where she receives her medicine, free of charge, along with instructions on how to use it properly. “I am thankful to the Red Crescent staff who helped me. I hope my hand will be better within a week as the doctor told me. Then I will be able to do my domestic chores properly.” 

When flash floods hit Sindh province, the PRCS responded immediately, deploying trained emergency health teams in two districts. Since then, they have seen nearly 3,000 patients with complaints ranging from diarrhoea and malaria to various skin infections. In an area where people have no choice but to use contaminated water, these ailments don’t come as a surprise to the medical staff. “I think most of these health problems are caused by a lack of awareness regarding good hygiene practices,” says Dr. Shahzad.

With that in mind, the PRCS adopted a two-pronged approach and began implementing preventive and curative measures at the same time. While medical staff tend to the injuries, diseases and infections, hygiene promoters visit with women and children, teaching them ways to avoid becoming sick again.

Providing emergency healthcare is just one facet of the Red Cross Red Crescent response to the flash floods. Teams are distributing food parcels and household items such as stoves, tents, blankets, hygiene kits and water. A clean water drinking unit has also been set up, and thousands of aqua tablets have been distributed. In total, 10,000 families will benefit from these interventions.

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