Healthcare for women, children and newborns is a serious concern in Pakistan and remains our priority there. Women in rural areas die from preventable complications during pregnancy and delivery, and neonatal care is unavailable in many areas. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, one in every 11 children dies before the age of five.
The availability of free, high-quality medical care is limited for women and children, particularly in rural areas. We work in four different locations in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces to provide reproductive, neonatal and paediatric care. Local communities, Afghan refugees and people who cross the border from Afghanistan to seek medical assistance benefit from our comprehensive 24-hour emergency obstetric services, which include surgery and referrals for complicated cases. We also run inpatient and outpatient therapeutic feeding programmes for severely malnourished children in Balochistan.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disease transmitted by the bite of a sandfly, is endemic in parts of Pakistan. The disease is characterised by disfiguring and painful lesions. We run five treatment centres for this disease; three in Quetta, Balochistan, one in Bannu and one in Peshawar Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Our teams offer diagnosis, treatment, health education and counselling. The cutaneous leishmaniasis programme has been expanded to the outskirts of Peshawar through MSF satellite clinics. In 2020, 3,363 patients were started on treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis.
Pakistan also has one of the highest prevalence rates of hepatitis C globally. In a clinic we run in Machar Colony, a densely populated informal settlement in Karachi, we provided nearly 4,602 consultations for hepatitis C in 2020.
MSF supports the Pakistani authorities with emergency response preparedness in case of disease outbreaks or natural disasters. When floods hit the Sindh region in October 2020, as a post-emergency response , we set up mobile clinics that visited 25 flood-affected villages in Tehsil Johi. Two medical teams provided basic outpatient medical services to more than 4,000 patients over the course of a month. Also, essential relief kits were provided to 2,500 families affected by the floods in five union councils of Tehsil Johi.
MSF teams are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. In Karachi, we are providing COVID-19 vaccination services to support the Government of Sindh’s mass vaccination campaign at the Rural Health Centre Sher Shah. We also support the vaccination’s cold chain management and maintenance. In Balochistan, MSF nurses and a lab technician support the COVID-19 unit of the government’s centralized Fatima Jinnah hospital. We have also provided training to Balochistan Department of Health staff on patient transfer between facilities to COVID-19 facilities and support the transfer of COVID-19 samples from Dera Murad Jamali, Jaffarabad and Chaman to the provincial laboratory in Quetta.
Our activities in 2021 in Pakistan
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021.
Despite the staffing and supply shortages caused by COVID-19, our teams managed to keep all projects in Pakistan open.
We maintained our reproductive, neonatal and paediatric care services at five different locations in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. We also assisted local communities, Afghan refugees and people in border areas, running emergency obstetric services and nutrition programmes, and ensuring the treatment and referral of critical trauma patients.
We continued to operate our cutaneous leishmaniasis programme in these two provinces, and opened two new satellite clinics in Peshawar and Bannu districts.
At the end of January, we handed over the last of our activities at Timurgara District Headquarters Hospital to the Department of Health. Since 2008, we had provided emergency, obstetric and neonatal care.
In Karachi, Sindh province, where we run a hepatitis C project in the informal settlement of Machar Colony, we started supporting COVID-19 vaccination activities in September. We opened a vaccination centre in the rural health centre of Sher Shah and sent a mobile vaccination clinic to several other sites in Kemari district. In Balochistan, we supported the Ministry of Health by providing staff, transporting test samples to laboratories and donating personal protective equipment (PPE). We also donated drugs, medical equipment and PPE to local health authorities and hospitals in four other provinces.
In Gujranwala, Punjab province, we opened a new project in November to diagnose and treat people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, implementing a decentralised approach, which enables patients to receive care nearer their homes.
Throughout the year, MSF made multiple donations to hospitals and disaster management authorities, and assisted with responses to outbreaks of measles and dengue. We also donated 500 relief kits to people affected by the earthquake in Harnai, Balochistan.