Disasters & Accidents

Pregnant women at risk in Pakistan’s flood relief camps

Islamabad, Sep 6 (EFE).- Thousands of pregnant Pakistani women have been forced to live in relief camps due to massive floods in the country are at risk due to lack of facilities, authorities warned on Tuesday.

“There are more than 47,000 pregnant women who are living in shelter camps in the province because of the floods,” Mehar Khursheed, a spokesperson for the Sindh health ministry, told EFE.

Provincial health minister Azra Pechuho on Tuesday underlined acute respiratory disease, diarrhea, suspected malaria, skin infections, snake and dog bite as the common health concerns at the flood relief health camps across the province, where 23 of the 29 districts have been declared calamity hit.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Pechuho said that relief work was being carried out in boats due to flooded areas being inaccessible.

The minister said that since July, over 800,000 patients had been treated in free health camps that were set up for flood relief.

As per estimates by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) the number of pregnant women in Pakistan’s flood-affected areas who require medical assistance for safe pregnancy and childbirth could be as high as 650,000.

“Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support,” the UNFPA had said in a statement on Aug. 30. The fund has been providing reproductive health services and commodities to women across the country.

The UN body also highlighted the massive damage caused by the floods to the country’s precarious health infrastructure.

More than 1,000 health facilities have been either partially or fully damaged in the Sindh province, whereas 198 health facilities were damaged in affected districts in Balochistan, another province ravaged by floods.

Nonprofit Human Rights Watch had warned on Friday that climate change – cited as one of the main reasons behind the unprecedented rains and flooding in Pakistan – has increased health pressures on pregnant women, new mothers, and their families and exacerbated existing inequities in maternal and newborn health.

“The negative impacts of climate change are unevenly experienced, with pregnant women among the groups most severely affected,” the rights watchdog said in a statement about a country where most births take place at home.

Pakistan has witnessed its highest monsoon rains in three decades this year.

The massive rains and melting glaciers in the country’s northern mountains have resulted in unprecedented floods affecting more than 33 million people across the country.

The national disaster management authority said that over 1.6 million houses have been damaged by the natural calamity.

The latest NDMA data released on Tuesday showed that 18 more people, including 8 children and 5 women, were killed in floods during the last 24 hours in the country, taking the total death toll by floods since June to 1343. EFE


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