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AmeriCares Relief Efforts in Pakistan

  • October 6, 2006

October 2006
One year after a massive earthquake left three million people homeless in Pakistan, the country is still struggling to rebuild the infrastructure in the two affected regions, the North West Frontier Province and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.  AmeriCares continues to address the serious health care challenges in the aftermath of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake, in which more than 73,000 people died, and an estimated 100,000 were injured.  

We are committed to helping rebuild the health care infrastructure so that those most affected by this catastrophe can focus on their families and livelihoods.  The following is a summary of AmeriCares relief efforts to date — work made possible by generous contributions from our donors. 

Our Latest Initiative:  Establishing 20 Rural Health Centers

Rural Health Center under constructionJust recently, construction was finished on three new rural health centers in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, the first in a network of 20 health care facilities being built under an agreement by AmeriCares and the World Health Organization.

Last year’s quake damaged or destroyed more than 60% of the primary care facilities in this region and neighboring Kashmir.  The AmeriCares-World Health Organization initiative is replacing key facilities in these critical areas, where there is currently no access to primary care. Designed to bring high quality health care services to the earthquake survivors, the rural health centers will each serve a population of between 50,000 to 100,000 people.  In total, the network of 20 hospitals will be able to provide services to one million people.

AmeriCares is purchasing the structures, fully equipping each center and supplying each with essential medicines as well as an ambulance.  In total, AmeriCares will spend $3.4 million to fund this project. 
“The construction of these rural community health centers will allow us to deliver comprehensive primary care services to many people in the affected areas,” says Dr. Khalif Bilé Mohamud, WHO representative in Pakistan.

This latest initiative is just part of AmeriCares comprehensive relief effort to improve health care for the survivors.   Last December, AmeriCares donated and set up a 15-bed field hospital in the remote Allai Valley.  Transported by trucks, planes and helicopter to the village of Bana, this hospital continues to provide health care services today to a population of nearly 150,000 people.  One of the greatest advantages the hospital brings to the local community is the availability of women doctors.  In this traditional, conservative area of Pakistan, women and girls are unable to be treated by male physicians.  The availability of female medical personnel has enabled many local women to visit the clinic, the majority of whom have never had professional medical care. More than 175 women have given birth at the clinic since it opened nearly 10 months ago. 

Looking Back at the Emergency Response Phase
In the immediate days and weeks after the October 8, 2005 earthquake, AmeriCares focused on bringing critically needed medicines and emergency relief supplies to Pakistan.  The first AmeriCares airlift of essential medicines arrived on October 12, 2005 and was rapidly distributed in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Here, 100% of the population was affected by the catastrophe, with survivors losing relatives, homes and jobs, some of them losing everything.

In the adjoining North West Frontier Province, people in many communities were similarly affected and local medical facilities were coping valiantly with the needs of the injured. AmeriCares second airlift arrived on October 26, 2005, delivering more than 100,000 pounds of medicines and blankets that were distributed to many of the major health facilities in this area as well.  In total, the two airlifts carried 130,000 pounds of relief supplies valued at more than $8 million. 

Temporary Shelters for Survivors of the Pakistan Quake, one year agoAt the same time, responding to an urgent need for temporary shelter for the survivors, AmeriCares purchased and delivered 1,200 winterized family tents, which were given to quake survivors in Northwest Frontier Province.  A third AmeriCares airlift delivered one million doses of a life-saving vaccine in December.  The HibTITER® vaccine protects young children against Haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB), a major cause of invasive bacterial disease, which can be deadly in disaster situations.  Wyeth Pharmaceuticals offered the vaccine to the relief effort, but because of transportation issues (the vaccine must be kept at a cold temperature during all phases of shipping and distribution) officials in Pakistan had no way to get the vaccines.  Upon learning of these special requirements, AmeriCares stepped in and was able to deliver the goods to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.  AmeriCares corporate partner BD donated 500,000 syringes to complement this particular relief effort.

Looking Ahead
AmeriCares efforts have not gone unnoticed.  On September 21, 2006, AmeriCares was honored by Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf in a special ceremony at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C.  Alongside fellow relief groups that provided aid to the victims of the earthquake, AmeriCares President and CEO Curt Welling accepted the prestigious Sitara-i-Eisaar (Star of Sacrifice) award from President Musharraf.  The award recognizes the outstanding work done by international organizations, community groups and individuals for their help with earthquake relief and rehabilitation.

The needs in Pakistan remain great, with rebuilding barely begun.  AmeriCares is collaborating with local partners to ensure that our aid is appropriate and meets the greatest needs of the communities who have asked for our help.  Our commitment to the earthquake victims is strong and we will continue to assist them as they recover from this terrible disaster.  As always, it is thanks to the generosity of our donors that AmeriCares is able to reach out and help. 

To make a contribution to this critical effort, click here.