WHO: Immediate funding required to protect health of 3 million people displaced in Pakistan
03 June, 2009 ¦ ISLAMABAD -- Immediate funding is needed for national and international health providers in Pakistan so they can provide life-saving health care to the more than 3 million internally displaced people now residing in temporary camps and in host communities in the country's northwest.
The World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA and 19 non-government organizations, who form the Health Cluster, are requesting US$ 37 million in the revised Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (PHRP) to provide and manage medicines, comprehensive Primary Health Care services, monitoring of the disease situation, health and hygiene promotion, testing of drinking water supplies and strengthening the secondary and tertiary level healthcare services to avert a humanitarian disaster.
The humanitarian community is facing an unprecedented financial crisis. Of the US$ 543 million requested through the PHRP on 22 May, only 22% has been funded. The health sector, so far has received only 11% of the requested amount.
WHO, as Health Cluster lead, is working closely with Pakistani federal, provincial and district authorities in the coordination and delivery of health services to those in need.
Among the huge number of displaced people are approximately 500 000 children aged under 5 years and, according to UNFPA, 69 300 pregnant women, 6000 of whom are expected to deliver within the next month. Nine hundred of these women will require emergency obstetric care to handle pregnancy-related complications.
A total of 61,174 consultations reported to Disease Early Warning System (DEWS) from IDP hosting districts of NWFP for the period of 23 to 29 May. According to data, the leading causes of medical consultations in the displaced people and hosting community are acute upper respiratory tract infection (23% of total consultations) and acute diarrhea (12% in all age groups and 22% of children aged under 5).
The risk of communicable diseases outbreaks is of high concern due to overcrowding, contaminated water, poor sanitation and hygienic conditions, low vaccination coverage, poor nutrition status and inadequate provision of health care. So far, 25 outbreaks have been recorded and contained in a timely manner through the Disease Early Warning Systems, but a funding short fall can seriously cripple timely detection and containment capacities that can lead to an increase in infant and child mortality in already underserved displaced people.
With the monsoon season fast approaching, concerns are growing about an increase in avoidable sickness and death due to disease outbreaks, such as acute respiratory infection, acute watery diarrhea, malaria and meningitis.
The fragile health status of host communities, as well as the health systems that serve them, are being threatened by the rapid increase in numbers of IDPs and their settlements.
For further information and media assistance, please contact
Dr Mateen Ahmed Shaheen
Technical Officer, EHA
Zeeshan Ahmad Qamar
Communications & Information Officer, EHA
World Health Organization,
WHO Building, Park Road, NIH Premises,
Chak Shahzad, Islamabad
Tel: +92(0) 51 9255184-5; Fax: +92(0) 51 9255083
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