Following severe floods in Pakistan caused by heavy monsoon rains and the recent Cyclone Yemyin, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has set up mobile clinics, a watery diarrhoea treatment centre and water sanitation projects and is also distributing vital relief items, including tents, blankets, hygiene kits and emergency food supplies.
Cyclone Yemyin swept through southern Pakistan with heavy rains and high winds on June 26, devastating entire communities. Estimates are that over 800,000 people have been affected. MSF immediately contacted Pakistan authorities to gain access to affected areas and, from July 5, MSF has been working in Turbat, Gwadar, Nasirabad and Jaffarabad areas, spread widely throughout the southwest of Pakistan, running up to the Iran border.
BBC: In Pictures: Pakistan Floods The districts of Turbat is one of the worst affected areas, with roads washed away.
"The biggest problem is the roads," said Tom Roth, MSF Head of Mission in Pakistan. "Travelling by car is immensely difficult, as vehicles get stuck in the muddy earth. Bridges and entire roads have vanished completely and many villages are still cut off from assistance, even though the water has disappeared.
"On top of this, crops were destroyed in large areas flooded by water. Although there have been some deliveries of food to affected areas, we are concerned about the ongoing food situation over the next months."
Throughout the affected areas, thousands of people are displaced, and the floods have contaminated water supplies and cut electricity. Homes have been destroyed, infrastructure is damaged and there is extensive destruction to agriculture.
"As people are drinking unsafe water, we are now treating people with acute watery diarrhoea who have cholera-like symptoms. In areas where displaced people are taking shelter in tents with inadequate sanitation, temperatures reaching 50 degrees and little available water, the situation is quite serious," said Tony Marchand, MSF Emergency Co-ordinator in Turbat.
MSF is distributing essential relief items for families, including food supplies, cooking utensils, hygiene kits, blankets and plastic tubs. An MSF team treated 270 patients for diarrhoea and skin infections in one of its first days. In Turbat, MSF set up a watery diarrhoea treatment centre and is establishing a water treatment unit in Ormara to provide safe drinking water, while in Pasni town, a team is in the process of setting up a water chlorination unit.
Teams are also providing medical supplies to complement the work of the Ministry of Health. In Turbat, MSF has a kit of drugs and supplies that can treat 50,000 people for three months. In addition, MSF is providing doctors and nurses as extra support and two additional ambulances to the Turbat hospital to assist with the high number of patients.
In areas near the Iranian border MSF teams are running mobile clinics to target isolated communities. In other remote areas, such as Biraja in Jhal Magsi district, teams are working to reach people unable to access official medical care. However, there are serious difficulties in reaching those affected.
MSF continues to closely monitor the health situation and the needs of the local populations.