Humanitarian Health Action

Bushra's story: flight from flood to safety and health

By Syed Haider Ali, WHO Pakistan communications officer
1 September 2010

Bushra, 35, with her children at Nowshera district's Government Technical College Hospital. Left-to-right: Bushra, twins babies on bed (as yet unnamed), Mammon, 3 years-old, Haroon, 4-years-old.
WHO/Syed Haider Al
Bushra, 35, with her children at Nowshera district's Government Technical College Hospital. Left-to-right: Bushra, twins babies on bed (as yet unnamed), Mammon, 3 years-old, Haroon, 4-years-old.

When the floods washed away her home, Bushra fled with her sight-impaired husband, two young sons and her, as yet, unborn twins.

"We drifted from place to place, like rolling stones, trying to find health care and shelter," says 35-year-old Bushra from the Aba-Khel village in Pakistan's Nowshera district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "I was days away from giving birth. My fatigued, hungry family reached a camp established by the government. Due to being pregnant, I was immediately admitted into the health post where I gave birth to twin boys."

Bushra, who delivered her babies on 2 August, is among 500,000 women who were expected to deliver babies during the next six months, and 32,000 expectant mothers are expected to face complicated pregnancies.

These reproductive health challenges require sustained support. The World Health Organization is supporting maternal, newborn and child health services in health facilities in temporary settlements, at hospitals and clinics, and through mobile medical teams.

UNICEF and UNFPA are instrumental in delivering health care to mothers, women, infants and children displaced by the flooding. Nongovernmental organizations are supporting these activities, particularly through the use of lady health workers and volunteers.

The health post, supported by the World Health Organization with medicines and other emergency health supplies, provides around-the-clock services, including primary health care and referral services, to people displaced by the flooding. Providing for the psychosocial and mental health needs of the flood-affected is also critical.

“It was a very difficult time for my family with the sudden flight and the stress we suffered. We were very scared during these days, but I feel very fortunate to be in this camp," Bushra says. "It is not as comfortable as home but we are faring better than many. The health facility is clean and the medical staff are treating us well. If we did not reach here, I don’t know what could have happened to us."

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