Pakistan Earthquake Relief Update

January 24, 2006

Omar Amir

Omar Amir of Real Medicine and Dr. Nasrullah, our new doctor, traveled to Jabri to initiate the primary healthcare project designed by Real Medicine/HOAP. A team comprising Omar Amir, Dr. Nasrullah and HOAP volunteers climbed up the mountains on foot to visit the hamlets situated at heights nearly 7000 feet above sea level. The team talked to community leaders and visited homes in the Kaleesh area to assess the needs firsthand. There is a tremendous need for heating since people are still sleeping in tents at night when the temperature routinely falls below -5 C. In addition, the team learned that the earthquake has closed many of the mountain springs in the area, leading to a severe shortage of clean water, with obvious health implications.

The team also visited Alari, a remote area in Shawal Moizullah situated above the snow line and frequently made inaccessible by landslides. The team talked to the Lady Health Worker in Alari (previously trained by HOAP) and other community members to assess the medical needs in the area. The team learned that due to the remote location and the extensive area covered by the LHW, the case load was unmanageable. There is a need for another LHW in the Bajmoori and Khangiri zones, which lie adjacent to the Alari area. Indeed, the medical needs here are so great that within 15 minutes the Real Medicine/HOAP team was surrounded by nearly 30 patients. Respiratory infections were rampant, particularly among the children. Dr. Nasrullah saw one particularly appalling case of appendicitis where the patient had not received medical treatment despite being in acute pain for nearly 10 days. The doctor referred him immediately to the Cuban Field Hospital in Gari Habibullah but there was no vehicle available for transport and the patient had to be carried on foot in extreme pain. This experience underlined the need for a jeep at the Jabri camp for the transport of acute cases to the hospital.

During the trip to Kaleesh and Alari, the Real Medicine/HOAP team identified local women as candidates for training as Lady Health Workers With the help of the Nazim, the team also identified some trained LHWs in Jabri that would be willing to work with the team on the primary healthcare project.

In addition to visiting local communities in the mountain hamlets in Shawal Moizullah, Dr. Nasrullah saw patients at the Jabri camp where the caseload had swelled due to the permanent presence of a doctor in the area for the first time in years. The Real Medicine/HOAP team also met the Nazim and community leaders in Jabri to discuss the medical project in Shawal Moizullah.

During the trip, the team also left Shawal Moizullah to visit the Cuban Field Hospital and the Kunhar Christian Hospital in Gari Habibullah to identify the services and specialists available for referral. The team arranged for a 15 year old patient from Jabri with a collapsed vertebral column and severe scoliosis to receive treatment at the Cuban Hospital. Dr. Nasrullah and Omar Amir then discussed the worsening medical situation in Shawal Moizullah at the WHO cluster meeting in Balakot city on Jan 23rd, talked to WHO about supplying a medical tent for an OPD and small ward at the Jabri camp and urged OXFAM to help HOAP/Real Medicine implement a water and sanitation project urgently needed in the Union Council.

Country Page: Pakistan Initiative Page: Healthcare Project, Union Council Talhatta