When it rains…
The people of Pakistan know that after the heat comes the rain and this year was no exception. Unfortunately yearly floods have become a way of life for the people in Balochistan (Southern Pakistan). This year has seen several areas flood due to heavy rains and damaged levy walls. As I made my way to my project site I could see water on both sides of the road although it was obviously higher a few days earlier. There were people camped to my left and right, many had tents that they had received in the floods last year or the year before. Some slept under temporary shelters made from foliage and fabric. It was difficult to watch mothers and children on the side of the road in the sun and dirt.
I was told by my colleague, who had driven the road a week earlier that there were less people displaced this week as some people were able to return home already. It seems like the people here have to leave their home and pack the few belongings they have to spend an unknown amount of time camped somewhere dry without any certainty of food or clean water. There has been some help at hand this year through the government and other health agencies. We are constantly monitoring the situation for a need for intervention. Floods are accompanied by an increase in communicable diseases through overcrowding and other illnesses through contaminated water. We are seeing higher numbers of patients in some areas that have been affected already.
At MSF we have trained extra staff to help respond if needed and we have emergency stock prepared to distribute. We are continuing to monitor the situation on a daily basis so that we can act quickly if required or requested from the people or the government of Pakistan. So far this year the floods haven’t been as severe as years past. There has still been significant loss of life and prolonged displacement of people. We can only hope that the levy walls are repaired and people are spared any further misfortune.
Measles & Tetanus
I saw my first case of Measles in Pakistan, now I’ve seen six. This meant children suffering from an easily preventable illness. These children (most of them malnourished) spent days isolated with their mothers in the measles tent suffering fevers and pain. Measles is rare in Australia however it is still ever present in Pakistan. A vaccination campaign was run earlier this year but obviously not everyone was covered. We had to monitor the situation in the villages where these children came from in case of an epidemic. Fortunately the children have recovered and no more cases have yet been found.
Vaccination is not a part of every life here and daily children are dying from easily preventable diseases. Recently we have also seen an increase in the number of Tetanus cases in newborns a terrible thing to witness with an extremely high mortality rate, even with treatment.