Monday, June 08, 2009

Frontier Continues Work in IDP Camps

The health group I work with in Pakistan, Frontier Primary Health Care, is based out of Mardan, North West Frontier Territory. Right now they are in the epicenter of one of the most massive movements of internally displaced persons on the globe as the number of people fleeing from Swat, Bajaur, Lower Dir and Buner, just north of them moves past three million.

The executive director of FPHC, Dr. Emel Khan, came to Canada last year to present the keynote address to the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada in Halifax. He also visited the west coast to initiate links with UBC and Simon Frazer universities. We secured a small grant later in 2008 for his wife, Dr. Wagma, the deputy director of FPHC, to take courses in conflict resolution at the Justice Institute of BC.

As the disaster unfolded in May, FPHC was among the first to respond, providing emergency and maternal care at their 14 health units. This has continued. FPHC now has a formal agreement with UNICEF for provision of health and nutrition services in the camps. The provincial health department has provided an ambulance and driver for use. Local and international organizations wanting to assist are asked by the government to coordinate their services thru FPHC, including specialist physicians from the large government hospitals from outside the area such as Punjab.

They are providing round the clock coverage to the largest camp in Mardan, that near Sheikh Yasin town with a population of 12,000.

To continue this level of support FPHC have hired 90 temporary staff members including physicians, dispensers, lady health visitors (LHVs), assistant LHVs, EPI technicians and nutrition assistants. Until a formal agreement was in place, FPHC was providing care with their own staff who number only 120. In addition to emergencies staff provide general OPDcare, MCH care, immunization, TB control and diarrhoeal disease control.

FPHC have also established nutrition services in six IDP camps that are screening children and pregnant women, providing nutritional supplements and sharing information about preparing healthy balanced diets. Prior to establishing nutritional services, three staff members, including Dr. Wagma received seven days of training on UNICEF’s emergency approach to nutritional support.

The agreement with UNICEF does not include medical supplies so FPHC struggles to provide what they can. More about FPHC can be found here.

Photo: FPHC provide emergency care during Mardan floods.



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