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UNICEF brings community health care to quake-hit Pakistan

© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Zaidi
Faisa Parveez, a UNICEF community health care worker, checks a sick woman’s blood pressure. UNICEF provides Faisa with basic medical supplies such as painkillers, rehydration salts, bandages and antiseptic creams.

By Kitty Logan

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan, 17 January 2006 – The village of Ghorisadan is tucked away in a hidden valley in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. The earthquake did not spare a single home. Now residents manage with what little they have – in very poor conditions. Some are trying to patch together temporary shelters out of broken wood they find in the rubble.

Gulhab is a grandfather to 15 children. He once had four houses for his extended family. Now he has nothing. But the family has been so focused on survival they have not had time to come to terms with the personal tragedy.

“Things have been very difficult. Some of our children were injured – and some died. Then right after the earthquake it rained – and we didn’t know what to do,” says Gulhab.

One of the things Gulhab and his family need most is health care. UNICEF and a local partner, the National Rural Support Programme, are sending female healthcare teams into Ghorisadan. These women have been sent to Islamabad for special training in health issues and now they are able to offer Gulhab the help he needs.

© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Zaidi
Faisa providing first aid to an injured girl at Ghorisadan village of Muzaffrabad.

Faisa Parveez is a community health care worker. “We go to people’s homes and we tell them about health and hygiene, so they can keep clean and prevent illness,” she says. “People here are affected by the earthquake. For example they don’t have proper toilets so we have to advise them how to build them. If their children are sick then we give first aid on the spot and refer them to hospital if necessary.”

Faisa and her team travel on foot so they can reach inaccessible areas, where people need help the most. UNICEF supplies Faisa with basic medical supplies such as painkillers, rehydration salts, bandages and antiseptic creams.

The hardship of living outdoors in winter means people are more likely to fall ill. They often don’t have the resources to maintain even basic standards of health and hygiene. Small wounds become easily infected and immediate care is vital to avoid further health problems. And just as important to people like Gulhab is the knowledge that someone in the community cares enough to make a difference – on yet another difficult day.




17 January 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Kitty Logan reports from Pakistan on a UNICEF community care initiative.

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