KP govt, WHO get together for displaced women’s health

July 18, 2014


Internally displaced women verify their identities at a government registration centre in Peshawar on July 7, 2014. —Photo by AFP
Internally displaced women verify their identities at a government registration centre in Peshawar on July 7, 2014. —Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in collaboration with the World Health Organisation is strengthening the Women and Children Hospital in Bannu to provide care to an estimated 40,000 pregnant women displaced from the adjoining Waziristan Agency due to the ongoing military operation against militants.

According to the officials concerned, the government is in the process of establishing the emergency maternity and children wards for internally displaced persons at the hospital.

They told Dawn on Thursday that four percent of the total displaced women were pregnant, who needed immediate medical attention in Bannu.

The officials said 20 basic health units with high IDP density were also being strengthened.

Officials say maternity wards at Bannu hospital to be established

They said the entire Bannu district had four women doctors and therefore, more such medical practitioners were being recruited to ensure better services to visitors.

Dr Fawad Khan of the WHO told Dawn that his organisation was engaged in helping the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health departments protect women from preventable deaths.

He said Bannu district’s existing health facilities were enough for local population but after the arrival of displaced persons from North Waziristan, there was a need to make more arrangements for their care.

“We’re helping the government fill these gaps,” he said.

The WHO representative said health facilities of Bannu were overburdened due to a large influx of IDPs.

He said his was the only international organisation assisting the government’s health initiatives in the IDP-hosting districts, especially in Bannu, where 73 percent women and children were in the dire need of care.

KP health dept finding it difficult to meet needs of IDPs

Dr Fawad said 30 percent of pregnant women among IDPs could face delivery-related complications.

He said such complications could be prevented if the existing facilities were upgraded.

“We are in the process of securing services of gynecologists for displaced women, who needed antenatal and postnatal care,” he said.

The WHO representative said another area of concern was the displaced children’s vaccination against polio.

“We have got an opportunity to administer oral polio vaccine to children, who have been unimmunised for two years in North Waziristan. We have begun a campaign with the help of partner organisations to ensure that all displaced people are vaccinated against the crippling disease,” he said.

Dr Fawad said special centres would be set up at health facilities to fight malnourishment among displaced women and children, while a campaign against measles would be launched during the next 10 days.

He said malnourishment emerged as a big problem whenever the mass displacement took place and that malnourished women and children faced health complications.

The WHO representative said the provincial government was also setting up a facility in Bannu city to provide treatment to diarrhea patients.

Meanwhile, the officials of the Bannu health department said the district had never hosted such a large displaced population and that its health facilities were unable to cope with the situation.

“The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department is sending doctors from teaching hospitals on rotational basis to meet the situation until the WHO hires lady doctors for the purpose,” an official said.

He said the Unicef, UNFPA and WHO supported the government’s efforts to strengthen reproductive health services.

The official said 65 doctors from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences of Islamabad were already in Bannu to provide medical attention to IDPs.

“The system to warn early about disease outbreaks is in place to protect the people lacking proper sanitation and clean water against diseases like acute watery diarrhea, acute respiratory infection, leishmaniasis and scabies,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2014