The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has yet to respond to requests for medicines and financial assistance for the flood-affected population in Chitral.
This was stated in a health department report released earlier this month. According to a copy of the document available with The Express Tribune, the district health department had repeatedly made these demands after an acute shortage of medicines was witnessed in the region.
“The district health officer has already requested PDMA for medicines and financial assistance,” stated the report. “Moreover, the demands have also been endorsed by the department of health. However, the district health department’s appeals have not been entertained yet.”
Speaking to The Express Tribune, an official of the health department confirmed that PDMA has not responded to pleas.
“There is a strong likelihood of an outbreak of diseases,” he said. “If aid is not provided, the situation will spiral out of control.”
A grinding halt
The report also drew attention to how heavy rain and flash floods in Chitral have negatively impacted the lives of people.
“At least 12 health facilities—including basic health units, civil dispensary and rural health centres – were completely destroyed during the floods in Chitral,” read the document. “In order to address the health needs of the flood-affected population, 16 free medical camps have been set up so far.”
According to the report, interruptions in power supply have also created problems for the maintenance of cold chains which are used to store vaccines.
“At least 12,657 people have been treated in August,” stated the document. “Of these, 1,125 have been treated for acute diarrhoea, 1,500 for acute respiratory infections, 1,130 for diarrhoea, 386 for skin diseases, 68 for injuries, 277 for eye infections, 161 for dysentery, 11 for malaria and around 7,000 for other diseases.”
As per the report, the provincial government has asked Unicef to provide oral rehydration sachets, water purification tablets and tents to cater to medical issues on a temporary basis.
“World Health Organization has also been asked to provide vehicles for emergencies,” stated the report. “Lady health workers are also providing health services through a series ofdoor-to-door drives.”
However, the director general of PDMA could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts to contact him.
Heavy rains and flash floods lashed the region in mid-July. The natural calamity resulted in casualties and widespread destruction. A large number of houses, shops and roads were swept away. Furthermore, the floods dealt a critical blow to local businesses. A majority of link roads were washed away by floodwater and it became difficult to carry out relief work. However, some volunteers and NGOs took a series of innovative steps to assist the flood-stricken population.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2015.