off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Medical profession and
Flood Relief Operations

During the current unprecedented floods in Pakistan, members of the medical profession, their specialty organizations besides various medical universities and other medical institutions have come forward to supplement government efforts in providing relief to the victims of floods. They have not only participated in the rescue operations but later on continue to contribute in supply of relief goods as well as providing the much needed healthcare where free drugs were also being provided. All this is commendable which must be appreciated.

However as seen during disasters in the past, quite often numerous groups start collecting relief goods and donations and one is not sure if they will be used judiciously. Hence, it is important that all those individuals, groups, organizations interested in relief operations should join hand with those organizations who have already been working in this field for the last many years, enjoy credibility and have accomplishments which have been acknowledge nationally as well as internationally. Hence, even some NGOs with no infrastructure of their own, could also join hands with well-established NGOs who have the experience of handling such crisis in the past. It will also ensure that there is no duplicate effort in organization and the volunteers and other human resource will also be properly utilized. If one is not worried as to who will get the credit, achieving cooperation and coordination between different organizations would not be difficult. Rehabilitation of the entire population affected by floods will require a lot more resources and concerted efforts. It is quite likely that different groups engaged in relief work may not be able to reach everywhere, hence co-ordination with the government agencies is desirable and need of the hour. At the same time, monitoring system also needs to be strengthened.

It is in this context that one would like to appreciate the decision by Pakistan Society of Internal Medicine (PSIM) headed by Prof. Javed Akram to have taken the right decision to collaborate with Akhuwat Foundation in their relief, healthcare and rehabilitation efforts. All the donations the PSIM is collecting from its members, friends and well-wishers are being deposited in the accounts of Akhuwat from where they will be used. PSIM has also announced an ambitious plan of constructing Aap Ki Basti for flood victims in District Dera Ghazi Khan.

PharmEvo Pharmaceuticals has also joined hands with Al-Khidmat Foundation which is another NGO which has a commendable track record of helping the country men during disasters may it be earthquakes or floods. They also enjoy credibility internationally. They have also acquired the services of qualified pharmacists to help, guide them in selection and appropriate use of drugs and medicines in over six hundred medical camps which Al-Khidmat plan to establish all over the country, so far about two hundred medical camps have reported to be already functioning. This will also ensure judicious use of available resources and the chances of any wastage will be either eliminated or minimized to a great extent. Various Trusts and Welfare Organizations are also actively participating in flood relief operations and their services also needs to be recognized and appreciated by the government.

Rawalpindi Medical University, King Edward Medical University, Services Institute of Medicine Sciences, Nishtar Medial University, PMA, Aga Khan University, Aga Khan Foundation, groups representing numerous other medical institutions and tertiary healthcare facilities are working in the field and so is the case with representatives from various pharmaceutical companies. They are all contributing their share in helping their countrymen during these crisis which has rendered millions of families homeless, Sindh and Baluchistan are perhaps the worst affected where thousands of acres of land are in water, hundreds of villages have been either been wiped out or badly damaged. The situation is also very serious in Swat and adjoining areas in the province of KPK and South Punjab. We as a nation need to show unity at such a time, give up politics and refrain from politicizing the relief operations. Government credibility is always very low and at times criticism about their performance during such disasters is also valid to some extent. Hence, the decision taken by Prime Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to get the funds used for relief operations audited not only from AGPR but also from an international agency is a welcome step in the right direction. It will guarantee some sort of monitoring and accountability will be ensured. Donors are always keen to ensure that their donations are well spent for the purpose they are donated. International community has responded to the calls for help and assistance and we need to make sure that all the relief goods, medical supplies are sent and distributed among the affected population efficiency. The recent sporadic incidents of looting of relief goods, has once again highlighted the importance that cooperation of the local opinion leaders, elders, support of the law enforcing agencies is crucial. Since this relief operations will continue at least for the next couple of months which will be followed by the rehabilitation of the affected people, necessary arrangements need to be made on urgent basis.

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