SWAT: Bureaucrats, doctors and other prominent people meet every year at five-star hotels to attend events related to Mother and Child Week. They get together to discuss how to spread awareness and better understanding of delivery methods and newborn health care.
But no one bothers to visit the mothers staying in deplorable conditions in various camps for the Internally Displaced Persons in Upper Swat.
About 70,000 children die every year due to pneumonia and diarrhoea throughout Pakistan, according to official data released by the health ministry last year. This year, the figure is expected to rise in the aftermath of floods. There are many families living in camps with virtually no health facilities for pregnant women or newborn babies and their mothers.
Shamim, who lives in one such camp, is worried. She is anxious about the time her baby is due.
“I am in great fear of what will happen to me and my child at the time of delivery. We have no proper facilities in these tents while hospitals are far away in Mingora city,” she told The Express Tribune. “At night cold breeze blows and I cannot sleep well due to the extreme cold. But I have only one fear and that is what will happen to me.”
A medical worker, associated with a local non-governmental organisation, said that while they were capable of providing basic treatment, they were not equipped to handle prenatal and postnatal care.
“Special arrangements need to be made to care for both the mother and her child. We have no such facilities,” she added.
Imran, a doctor at the camp, told The Express Tribune, “Diarrhoea is caused by improper food habits. The government is responsible for food at the camp. They have taken no measures to ensure the food available at camps is safe [for human consumption].”
“The health department should seriously take steps in camps for the new mothers. Both mother and child should be kept in warm places not in the tents. There must also be proper arrangements to provide food and clean drinking water,” Imran said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2010.
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