Update from the Field

January 6, 2006

Omar Amir

The winter claimed its first victim in Jabri this week. Among the patients the Real Medicine Team saw on the evening of Jan 1st was a 3 month old girl suffering from fever and a cough. The child was given medication including antibiotics but her condition rapidly deteriorated during the cold spell that hit the Northern Areas of Pakistan this week. On following up the case, Real Medicine learned that after the earthquake, the child's family had been living in a make-shift shelter open on both sides in Upper Pateka, one of the higher and colder villages in Shawal Moizullah. All the family members had chest infections. According to Amir Shah, the dispenser and paramedic at HOAP's camp at Jabri, the sole health care setup in Shawal Moizullah (an area of 20,000 people), most children in Upper Pateka have chest infections. And medicines at the small, inadequately stocked medical tent that he mans at Jabri are rapidly running out.

During the cold wave this week, nearly $600 worth of medicines at the Jabri camp was distributed but cases of chest infections in Shawal Moizullah, particularly among children and the elderly, have continuously risen. And though only one death has been officially reported in Jabri, more mortalities have almost certainly occurred. Numerous villages in Shawal Moizullah have become inaccessible due to the rain and snow and attendant landslides. In the areas of heavy snowfall, many of the tents that families are seeking shelter under have given way under the snow, further exposing them to the cold.

The Real Medicine team has partially responded to the situation by purchasing $800 worth of the most critical medicines needed at the Jabri camp. The pharmaceutical company Merck also plans to help Real Medicine's efforts by donating some of the medications that it distributes in Pakistan. However, the need for medicines in Shawal Moizullah will remain acute as the winter worsens over the following weeks.  

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