KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: With an estimated five million people at risk of various diseases after being displaced across the country following heavy rains and floods, medical experts and aid organisations have warned that medicines worth over a billion rupees are immediately needed in the affected areas, which they believe can only be generated through donations by pharmaceutical companies.

Meanwhile, a survey has found religious parties have set up the highest number of relief camps for flood-affected people.

“As the disaster is huge, the response should be the same,” said Sufyan Khan, the managing director of Al Khidmat Foundation’s (AKF) health division, at a joint press conference at the Karachi Press Club along with key members of the Pakistan Society of Health-System Pharmacists, local pharmaceutical firm Pharmevo, senior doctors and health experts.

Survey finds religious parties, groups have set up most relief camps for flood-hit people

“International trends and studies lead to an estimate that some five million people are at risk of different diseases. If we keep the minimum medicine price for each patient at Rs220, medicines worth at least a billion rupees would be required.”

Haroon Qasim of Pharmevo shared his reservations based on past experiences when mismanagement, lack of experience and unchecked supplies led to leakages, wastage of medicines worth millions and “mafias” exploiting the situation. He then referred to guidelines prepared by the PSHP carrying details of several medicines as basic first-aid supplies.

Religious parties’ camps

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by an NGO has found that religious parties have set up the highest number of relief camps and are receiving huge funds. This perhaps reflects a lack of confidence in the federal and provincial governments’ capability to carry out relief efforts.

Although most of the religious parties were organised on sectarian lines, the donors didn’t care about the divisions. These are some of the major findings of Pattan Development Organisation’s preliminary survey, conducted on July 29 and 30.

Interestingly, about 95pc of the respondents mentioned ‘sympathy’ and ‘to serve humanity’ as the motivating factors for setting up relief camps, while only 2pc said it was ‘my religious duty’. Most stated ‘reaching out to the worst-hit areas due to damaged bridges’ as the general challenges to aid collection and distribution.

“All the camps our teams visited were set up between August 24 and 30. [We] visited 15 camps in the capital city and interviewed those managing them. A large majority of the camps were run by members, madressah students, and volunteers of different organisations. Besides camps, almost every respondent said they employed multiple means to collect relief items and cash such as social media, door-to-door visits, word of mouth, personal contacts, and announcements through mosques,” the report stated.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2022

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