In Action in Thatta
September 14, 2010
Swinging into action, project staff and volunteers from AKU’s Department of Community Health Sciences evacuated villagers from Darro, Mir Pur Bhatoro and Mir Pur Sakro talukas in Thatta District once flood warnings were issued by the Sindh government.
Over 135 staff and 200 community volunteers of the Department’s Global Network for Women’s and Children's Health Research (GNRU) project, local residents themselves, played a key role in persuading residents to shift to safer hilly areas in and around Makli. With the help of local transporters, they shifted around 7,000 people out of the flood zone. Past this danger stage, they now continue to offer basic health services to over 150 patients every day.
At present around 100,000 people mostly from Sajawal are living as IDPs in relief camps in Makli and on the outskirts of Thatta. Prevented from returning home because of standing flood water, they are sheltering in an assortment of large and small camps, established on any suitable ground along the roadside.
Joining forces with Dr Dani Bux Thebo, EDO Health, Thatta, over four doctors, six nurses and Lady Health Visitors of GNRU and two Community Medicine residents are visiting these camps daily, providing health services at their ‘doorstep’ as many cannot commute to health facilities. They are providing check-ups, free medication and transport to a hospital if the need arises.
The team is also working at the Thatta Cement Factory, where a full-fledged camp has now been established, housing over 2,000 people from temporary roadside and footpath shelters. Besides providing health services, the team has also been transporting families that urgently require shelter.
They are seeing people with open wounds and injuries incurred during transportation, urinary tract infections, dysentery, gastritis, malaria, conjunctivitis, otitis, night blindness and scabies. A number of women are pregnant and anaemia among women and young children is common.
Since the team members are local residents, they have received donations of water, food, kitchen utensils and clothing for the flood affectees from philanthropists and institutions such as the Allied Bank. But the biggest problem is petrol! Fuel is in short supply and needed to make the daily trips to the camps.
Staff are also promoting better hygiene practices to reduce health risks in the camps and even after the affectees return home. They are conducting hand washing sessions for children and have already distributed over a hundred packs of soap and towels provided by a local organisation. Mineral water with ORS sachets are being distributed among the needy, and small milk packs are being provided to young children prescribed medicines.