More aid needed for Pakistan’s flood effected pregnant women: Pleads a Geneva based humanitarian group

On Thursday, CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) noted that only 22 per cent of the funding pledged to Pakistan has been dispersed.

It issued a plea for more funding for pregnant women, who were deemed as a particularly vulnerable group.

The Geneva-based group said that “of more than 5 million people currently affected by the floods in Sindh, approximately 143,750 are pregnant women. Of these, 15 per cent – or 21,562 women – will need medical treatment for obstetric complications.”

Women and children need a range of services, including family planning, prevention and treatment of sexual violence, hygienic delivery assistance, emergency obstetrics and newborn care.

The issue of ‘privacy’ also presents serious hazards to the health of pregnant and lactating women.  Gynecological examinations and delivery are further complicated by cultural norms. Female doctors or health visitors are short in supply. Local hospitals are largely non-functional and treat only emergencies. Traditional birth attendants are also short in supply, as they too have been affected by the floods and are busy caring for their own displaced families.

Women are giving birth on roadsides or waste-covered fields and pregnant women are being tended to by unskilled attendants.

The United Nations estimates that 440 women in the eight worst-affected districts go into labour every day, 60 of whom may have potentially life-threatening pregnancy-related complications.

CARE has six mobile medical teams, each with one male and one female doctor, treating 230 to 240 people a day, most of them women, requesting women doctors.

It needs to be noted that the massive floods that have affected large areas of Pakistan are straining humanitarian agency budgets, which have been stretched thin by falling donor contributions as a result of the weakening of economies across the globe.

Pakistan has failed to attract the attention of international donors to provide help for the rehabilitation of flood effects Pakistanis who are still lingering homelessly after their villages were destroyed by floods this summer.