WHO steps up emergency response to Pakistan crisis
11 JULY 2009 ¦ ISLAMABAD - The World Health Organization is ramping up its health response to the Pakistan's humanitarian crisis by buying ambulances and millions of courses of additional medicines, plus building new warehouses, to improve health care for the approximately 2 million internally displaced people and the many more hosting them in northwest Pakistan.
"WHO is providing the technical knowhow on how best to treat patients, deliver services and safeguard drinking water," said Dr Khalif Bile, WHO's representative to Pakistan. "But delivering emergency medical care to the displaced and those in host communities also demonstrates WHO's role as lead agency in the overall Health Cluster response to the crisis."
Many of the supplies are being shipped in before the coming monsoon (due to start late July) to prepare health providers for communicable disease outbreaks, including diarrhoeal diseases, not only in the areas currently hosting the displaced, but also across the entire country.
WHO is buying 22 ambulances, worth an estimated US$ 850 000, for health services in the 11 most affected districts, where major gaps have been identified in the system of patient referral between basic and higher levels of medical care. The first seven ambulances will be handed over to Pakistani health authorities in August. They will improve the referral of patients from basic health units in displaced people's camps to secondary and tertiary level hospitals giving them access to safe blood transfusions and adequate care for pregnancy complications, acute surgical emergencies, trauma care and other complicated conditions.
WHO has already provided essential medicines to treat 780 000 people since August 2008, when people first started being displaced from northwest Pakistan due to flooding and conflict. But many more are needed.
WHO plans to supply enough drugs to treat at least 3 million people from now through to the end of the year. But WHO has received less than half of the US$ 10 million requested to purchase the entire range of medicines it needs. Overall, only 25% of the US$ 37.6 million needed by WHO and its health partners to provide essential health services from July to December has been funded or pledged.
Ahead of the monsoon season, which could fuel diarrhoeal disease outbreaks, WHO will deliver intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts and antibiotics in 500 diarrhoea disease kits that can treat 50 000 severe cases or 200 000 moderate, costing US$ 725 000. WHO has helped set up 12 diarrhoea treatment centres in the five districts where IDPs have fled to. Additionally, WHO is purchasing medical supplies to treat upwards of 1000 people suffering from wounds and other conflict-related injuries which require surgical interventions, costing approximately US$ 215 000.
"A considerable logistics effort is also needed to deliver and safely store life-saving drugs and equipment to affected areas," said Dr Bile. To store these supplies, WHO is building five new warehouses, at a cost of approximately US$ 300 000, close to the affected people. The first two warehouses, which have a combined storage capacity of 500 square metres, are being built in the Peshawar and Mardan districts, where "health hubs" are being established. Environmental engineers, pharmacists, disease surveillance officers and logisticians are being stationed at the hubs. Another warehouse, some 1000 square metres in size, is being newly leased in Islamabad.
Finally, WHO will supply 50 kwa generators to 11 district headquarter hospitals to ensure operating theatres and life-saving interventions can run 24 hours a day, costing US$ 150 000. WHO is erecting tents in the seven major IDP camps for Health Cluster partners to coordinate activities and fill gaps in health services.
For more information please contact:
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean
Anne N’zaou Daher Aden
Technical Officer, Information & Communication
Emergency and Humanitarian Action Unit
tel.: + (202) 22765558
mobile: +(201) 65 51 31 48
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