When Monsoon hits Pakistan a large outbreak of diseases are reported in different parts of the country. It’s one of those problems that occur due to lack of preventive measures and lapses in our pre-planned structure. Monsoon usually spans in Pakistan from start of June until the end of August and throughout the months we hear about causalities and illnesses caused by rain and its after effects such as damming of water on roads, deaths due to electric shock, dengue outbreak, malaria, measles etc. Well, blame game is also at its peak in these days – media and newspapers are flooded with discussions based on someone should have done it; it’s not our responsibility and some similar lines like we are trying to help people who are in this condition.
But the question is “Is monsoon an unexpected condition to deal with?” I m 22 years old and since the last 10 years I have been listening about causalities occurring in this specific period. Same old repeated problems which are never considered or solved ending up by taking lives of thousands, leaving hundreds in need of emergency health facilities, and countless malnourished in a country where people don’t have enough money to fulfill their day to day needs. Now it’s time to stop blaming and start working in a practical manner so that we could improve the health conditions Pakistan.
Helen Keller once said, “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”
I personally do believe in this – a little effort done by each one of us could make things different and save lives of many. It’s indeed true that media is a big power, nowadays the advent of free media has changed the way of thinking of our population. Telecasting health related campaigns and ads is undoubtedly a noble act and media institutions and NGOs should be praised for it . People are now more aware about the health issues as compared to the past.
However, still in villages and rural areas where literacy rate is low people are mostly unable to understand the message or completely misunderstand it or the adequate health facilities are not available to them. One of the reasons for this is language barrier: in most of the parts of Pakistan people speak several languages instead of national language Urdu, hence an ad campaign on national television is unable to be understood by a target group of the population. Secondly, the myths which are created by different groups regarding some treatment options such as vaccines and polio drops for which there is no proper training and feedback mechanism set for doctors to deal with this problem. If health facilities will not be provided in a community, they will become insecure about the future of their children and therefore they will emphasize on giving birth to more offspring so that some of them could survive out of these disastrous health conditions.
However, instead it ends up as burden when it comes to upbringing of children. The disease outbreaks that we mostly hear after monsoon includes malaria, dengue, diarrhea and this year many cases of measles were also reported which has been wiped off from the world long ago but not in Pakistan as yet. In 2013 according to news on (1st August 2013 )192 deaths and 22,971 cases were reported in many areas of interior Sindh and Punjab. This outbreak was reported first in Sindh interior areas and children who survived in floods and rains were the victims of this lethal disease.
The point is that was it not the right of those innocent children to receive MMR vaccine or in our county only children born with golden and silver spoons have rights to live. Many media documentaries were made on this improvehearingnaturally.com issue throughout the year but no preventive campaign was seen in action emphasizing on children who should receive MMRV. Malaria education program, one of those programs being funded by USAID since 1961 in collaboration with W.H.O. The website of directorate of malarial control Pakistan states, “Pakistan being the signatory to the effect, started RBM (roll back malaria) implementation in the phased manner by earmarking 273 million from allocations for 5 years since FY 2001-02, supplemented by the provincial PC-1 allocations while 658 million have been approved for the next 5 years 2007-2012 to support provincial programs.”
On the same page a graph was given which showed the progress of the program which showed that Slide Positivity rate (SPR), Annual Parasite Incidences (API), were highest in 2011. Which means that this program was not governed properly. A reputable news paper stated on 26 April 2013 “Malaria is the poor man’s disease and every year 0.5 million people get malaria in Pakistan.” In 2011, dengue was epidemic in Pakistan, it has killed over 300 people in the last several months, and over 14,000 are infected by this mosquito-borne disease.
In 2012, 639 cases of dengue reported in Karachi and only two patients died. This matter was handled carefully and media had played a big role in order to prevent people from dengue by giving awareness about causative agent, signs and symptoms and treatment. Thus, the number of cases decreased. Diarrhea which is number one killer of children under 5 years of age along with ARI is also one of the diseases out broken this year in Sindh, a total of 99,817 diarrhea cases have been reported in Sindh this year out of which 18,992 were admitted to different hospitals for treatment. He further said eleven diarrhea patients have also died this year.
Other causalities that we hear in rainy season include death by electric shock so drowning ads and short documentaries should be made in order to tell people how to save lives or help people at time of need with adequate rescue services. Being medical professionals, it’s our responsibility to emphasize on the right measures that should be taken on the right time for example pre planned preventive campaign and ads which involve medical students, doctors and health workers. Otherwise disasters caused by rain and its after effects initiate a domino like effect which should be broken. Media and medics have to go hand in hand in order to make powerful strategies to overcome future challenges.
1-diarrhea cases report 23rd june 2013(http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20130623story_23-6-2013_pg12_8)
2-directorate of malaria control Pakistan (http://www.dmc.gov.pk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=88)
4- Dengue (http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/general-news/94021-639-dengue-cases-reported-in-karachi-during-2012-only-two-patients-died.html)
6- disease outbreak in Pakistan (http://pakistanweatherportal.com/2013/07/25/abnormality-of-weather-leaves-trail-of-diseases-across-pakistan/) link of picture:https://www.google.com.pk/search?q=monsoon+rain+and+floods+in+pakistan&safe=active&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=7B8DUrHBDMnpPLOcgfAN&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1422&bih=1036#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=58HWq3-WzK-DUMFtSHe5zidPl4tMhttp3A2F2Fprevious.presstv.ir2Fphoto2F201209282Fshamseddin20120928154041923.jpghttp3A2F2Fwww.presstv.ir2Fdetail2F20122F092F282F2639862Fflash-floods-kill-hundreds-in-pakistan2F650365
About the Author: Sana Sohail Anwari is a medical student currently studying in 4th year M.B.B.S and wants to work further in field of research and preventive medicine. She can be reached at [email protected]
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Tags: awareness, dengue, diarrhea, education, flood, hazards, healthprograms, malaria, Media, monsoon, Prevention, printmedia, rains
UNICEF helps to rebuild a school in a flood-ravaged village in north-west Pakistan
Pakistan flood crisis, one year on
Children and families continue to cope – and rebuild their lives – a year after devastating monsoon floods struck Pakistan. This is one in a series of stories on their situation, one year on.
By David Youngmeyer
NOWSHERA, Pakistan, 1 August 2011 – In July 2010, when floods reached the village of Kheshgi Bala, Maryam’s school – located right next door to the Kabul River – sat directly on the front line. Normally a sleeping giant, the river swelled with the intense monsoon rains and surged onto the land, filling the school with up to three metres of water and half a metre of mud.
|VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the rehabilitation and re-opening of a girls' primary school in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which was severely affected by monsoon floods in 2010. Watch in RealPlayer|
“I got scared and ran away when the floodwater came into my house,” recalls Maryam, 11. “My family went to stay with friends on higher ground so that we would be safe.”
When Maryam returned to her village after the waters had receded, she was saddened by the devastation the flood had left in its wake. “I just cried,” she says, “because I thought my family and I wouldn’t be able to return to the village or see all my friends again.”
During the time when her family was displaced – including Maryam and her four younger siblings – she used to climb a hill near their temporary home. From there, she could see her school. She kept wondering whether she would ever be able to go back.
|© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Quraishi|
|Maryam, 11, responds to a teacher’s question at Kheshgi Bala Government Girls Primary School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. The school was severely damaged by monsoon floods in 2010.|
The object of Maryam’s longing, Kheshgi Bala Government Girls Primary School, was one of the hardest-hit schools in Nowshera District, located in north-west Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The mud clogged the school’s well, water tank and toilets. Classroom furniture, student records, a boundary wall and water pipes were either destroyed or left unusable.
Fortunately, unlike the neighbouring mud houses that were washed away entirely, the school’s concrete structure remained intact.
After about a month, Maryam’s home was rebuilt and she was able to return to the village with her family. When the 2010 summer vacation was over, she and her classmates continued classes in a temporary open-air space, as their school was still out of action.
Support from UNICEF
After the floods, UNICEF worked closely with the government and non-governmental organizations to assess humanitarian needs and provide emergency assistance in districts throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other affected areas.
|© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Quraishi|
|Aiman, 10, washes her hands with soap and water at a newly installed tap in the rehabilitated Kheshgi Bala Government Girls Primary School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan.|
Along with one implementing partner, the Society for Sustainable Development (SSD), for example, UNICEF quickly assessed damaged schools in eight union councils in Nowshera District. (Nowshera was one of the worst-affected parts of the province, with more than 71,000 households disrupted.) At the same time, UNICEF worked with more than 100 partners to address water, sanitation and hygiene issues in flooded communities across Pakistan.
To date, UNICEF’s integrated package of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions has reached 140,000 children in 1,530 permanent schools and temporary learning centres in these communities – including the Kheshgi Bala Government Girls Primary School.
Happy to be back
It took about a month to clear away the sludge from Maryam’s school, rehabilitate and upgrade the school’s water and sanitation facilities, and repaint its walls. A new tank and pump for drinking water, and taps for students to wash their hands, were installed.
“We are very grateful to UNICEF for their help,” says teacher Gul Seyab. “The old facilities have been improved and the school is in a much better condition now.”
|© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Quraishi|
|Girls play in the schoolyard of Kheshgi Bala Government Girls Primary School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. Floods in 2010 left thick layers of mud in the school, which was rehabilitated with support from UNICEF.|
Maryam and other student volunteer helped the teachers put the finishing touches on the school, carrying water for washing, cleaning cupboards and moving in replacement furniture.
To help prevent the spread of waterborne diseases, UNICEF provided hygiene kits, soap, jerry cans and buckets for children and their families, while SSD ran classes teaching students good hygiene. Maryam is one of the students in the school hygiene club, made up of students and teachers, which continues to emphasize the importance of handwashing with soap and other necessary practices.
Maryam says she is very happy to be back at her old school again with her two sisters. She adds that she hopes to become a doctor on day, so that she can help the sick and build a better future.