Pakistan

Pakistan: Children injured in quake flood hospitals

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/ Zaidi
Ejaz Ifthikar, injured in the 8 October earthquake, with his mother at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan.

By Asad Zaidi

ISLAMABAD, 10 October 2005 – Hundreds of children are being treated in this city’s largest hospital –  the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) – for injuries sustained during Saturday’s earthquake.

“These are children who, amongst the thousands hurt, have been lucky to be pulled out of the rubble and brought to the hospital for medical care,” said UNICEF Health Officer Dr. Nabila Zaka during a visit to the hospital.

One young survivor, Shafiq, 10, sat up and stared at Dr. Zaka from beneath the bandages that bind his head. He did not remember being brought in to the hospital from Bagh, a town badly hit by the earthquake.

Shafiq was scheduled for surgery on his jaw, which was broken when the rafters of his grandparents’ house collapsed. His grandparents were killed in the disaster. Hospital officials are trying to contact his parents, and are unsure whether they survived.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/ Zaidi
Shafiq-u-Rehman, another young survivor of the earthquake, with his friend M. Remzan, at PIMS.

Other child survivors include Raza and Ejaz. Raza sustained severe bruises to his face, and Ejaz' leg was broken. Both boys waited 24 hours in cold, freezing rain before being brought to the hospital by relatives.

Tip of the iceberg

About 150 children were admitted with earthquake-related injuries during the six hour afternoon shift on Sunday, 9 October 2005. Most of the children came in with head wounds, multiple internal injuries or complicated fractures. Many were on stretchers, and either had concussions or were unconscious.

"Reaching the hospital is not the end of these children’s problems," said Dr. Zaka. "Many of them will require longer-term rehabilitation, post-traumatic psychological support and may be facing loss of one or both parents, siblings and playmates. We need to be conscious about their protection needs."

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/ Zaidi
Raza sustained severe bruises in the earthquake; he is also being cared for at PIMS.

Doctors and hospital officials warn that the situation for injured children may get worse. "In numbers, this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Zaheer Abbasi, Head of Paediatric Surgery at PIMS. "Many communities have not even been accessed yet – and with so many hospitals destroyed in the affected region the pressure on the capital's hospitals will increase.

"And the fear is that with every hour that passes, children who were hurt and haven't yet been reached by emergency services are more at risk from loss of blood and infection."

Mansehra

UNICEF Health Officer Dr. Tamur Mueenuddin said he witnessed terrible injuries sustained by children in the city of Mansehra, not far from the epicentre of the earthquake. Dr. Mueenuddin said he saw children with twisted limbs and abdominal lacerations. 

"There are 2000 children needing operations there – they're being taken in batches of 200 down to the [local] hospital where five medical teams are working round the clock," he said.


 

 

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