Update from the Field

January 10, 2007

Rubina Mumtaz

The past few months have been fraught with frantic activity and massive changes in the HOAP-RMF Health care project. With the inauguration of the government operated Basic Health Unit (BHU) in Jabri, the HOAP-RMF Healthcare Project has achieved one of its most important objectives which was to give primary healthcare, free of cost, to the earthquake affectees residing in Jabri and the surrounding villages till such time that the original healthcare apparatus of Jabri was operative once again.

 The selection of another area devoid of any healthcare facility was made after much deliberation, research and review of administrative aspects such as the availability of space and cooperation of the community stakeholders. An area at the junction of two Union Councils, Shawal Muizullah and Talhata was selected. The process of relocating the clinic was carried out in the month of November. The structure of the original camp was made of metal sheets which proved to have a reduced utility in re-use, giving rise to the need of additional construction material, an unexpected expenditure that was not budgeted for. Due to personal efforts by our project coordinator, Dr. Zahoor, HOAP-RMF was successful in obtaining the additional construction material through the National Volunteer Movement donated by SPAPEV. NVM. Furniture including beds and chairs were donated by an Islamabad based philanthropist, Mrs. Khan, which allowed us to construct a 4-bed ward where patients can be kept under observation all day or overnight if required. We are very grateful for this generous support which enabled us to establish a robust and better equipped healthcare unit.

  Although the clinic in Talhata was operative as soon as the infrastructure was established, the official inauguration was conducted on 25th December 2006, by which time an average of 30 patients were already utilizing the facilities. It is expected that although the number of patients will increase, the distribution of the most commonly presented complaints will remain the same. It is this forecast that forms the basis for the proposed Community Outreach Health Education Program (COHEP). The Lady Health Visitors report a surprising number of women who ask for family planning advice, oral contraceptives and injection-form contraceptives being the popular methods. Other birth control methods are either unpopular or not known. They will also play a key role on ground for carrying out the COHEP.

In regard to the Community Outreach Health Education Programs, a meeting with the key stakeholders of the two union councils was held at Kotbala. The Nazims (Mayors) Councilors and political agents of each Union council Shawal Muizullah and Union Council Talhata were present. The RMF team explained the need for teaching basic hygiene measures to prevent and protect against many commonly presented diseases such as diarrhea, dehydration and scabies. Women form the first line of defense and their training is of utmost importance. Access to the women requires full cooperation and permission by their men folk. Assurances were given that the local cultural conventions will be given their due respect and protocol. The key stakeholders welcomed the idea of COHEP and assured us of their cooperation, marking the meeting as a success.

On our departure back to Islamabad we passed by several tent villages which had been empty during summer but were now fully occupied. ERRA, the earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction authority has been giving selective licenses for reconstruction in this region. This, unfortunately means that the average man will fall between the cracks of the system and is forced to move back to the tent villages for protection against the bitter chill of the Himalayan winter.

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