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Pakistan: Supporting primary health care for earthquake victims

11-04-2006 News Release 06/17

Health care – or the lack of it – is one of the major problems facing victims of last October’s earthquake.

Since the ICRC launched its operation in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the organization has been running a field hospital in Muzaffarabad and supporting basic health units (BHUs). Recently, the organization expanded its primary health-care project to a further village in the Neelum Valley.

In early March, the ICRC began supporting efforts to re-open the ministry of health Rural Health Centre in Dhanni, which had been completely destroyed. An Australian team provided health care up to the end of February, and when the ICRC heard that they would be leaving the organization accepted the Pakistani authorities’ request to fill the gap.

The ministry of health/ICRC facility officially opened on 7 March and eighty people turned up on the first day. They included suspected measles cases, so the centre carried out mass vaccinations next day to prevent this highly contagious disease from spreading. Since then, the most common problems have been acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and chronic diseases, with children making up 25% of the workload for several days after the centre opened. The facility will serve 35,000 people.

The Rural Health Centre is a complex of tents housing outpatient, mother and child, maternity, vaccination and pharmacy departments. Services will expand shortly with the opening of a laboratory and a tuberculosis department. The centre is staffed by six expatriates (two doctors, three nurses and a midwife) and a number of local employees, most from Dhanni, and there are plans to include medical staff from the ministry of heal th who had been working at the centre before the earthquake.

The organization continues to run BHUs in Muzaffarabad (provided by the German Red Cross), Pattika (provided by the Finnish Red Cross) and Chinnari (provided by the Japanese Red Cross), plus a health ministry mother and child clinic in Cham (provided by the Norwegian Red Cross). As of 20 March, these facilities had held almost 45,000 consultations, including over 10,000 vaccinations.

  For more information, please contact:
  Rashad Akhundov, ICRC Muzaffarabad, tel: +92 300 852 87 04
  Layla Berlemont Shtewi, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 81 38 or +92 51 282 47 80
  Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or mobile +41 79 217 32 26