KARACHI: Highlighting the challenges faced by the government in the flood-hit areas, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said on Tuesday that hundreds and thousands of vulnerable women and children who required healthcare were not comfortable being treated by men and there was a dire need for more female doctors.

Lack of access to flood-hit areas, the minister pointed out, was still a big challenge, and was adversely affecting relief efforts.

“The disaster was beyond everyone’s imagination. Our health infrastructure, crops, irrigation system, IT facilities and road network have been destroyed and countless people are now homeless,” the provincial health minister told journalists at a press conference here at the Sindh Assembly’s Committee Room No 1.

“We have more than enough medicines. But, the issue is lack of access that many government workers and non-government organisations engaged in relief work are facing. People are forced to drink contaminated water while standing water has become a source of illness,” she explained.

About lack of coordination among relief agencies, she said: “Right now it’s not possible to work in a coordinated way,” adding that everyone had to come forward and help in whatever way possible.

According to the minister, the doctors who performed duties in the Covid-19 pandemic had been mobilised for flood relief while the Punjab government had also sent seven teams of healthcare professionals, including male and female doctors, paramedics and nurses.

The minister feared the flood-hit areas might also see an outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) as a large number of livestock had arrived from flood-affected parts of Balochistan to Sindh.

Sharing data of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), she said the estimated number of female IDPs was 2,583,003 and the number of pregnant IDPs stood at 102,520, whereas 891 pregnant women were in the shelter camps. More than 70,000 patients, the minister said, were being treated at the medical campus daily.

“Since July, health teams have treated over 800,000 people in flood-affected areas where acute respiratory disease, diarrhoeal diseases, suspected malaria, skin infections, snake and dog bites are common.”

The press conference was attended by parliamentary secretary of health Qasim Siraj Soomro, among others.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2022

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