The world is witnessing the magnitude of disaster that has struck Pakistan due to unprecedented and deadly floods, adding to the woes of the destitute whose belongings and meagre assets got washed away in just a blink of an eye.
With one-third of Pakistan submerged under water, women especially “Pregnant Women” are among the most vulnerable group impacted by the crisis, and it is uncertain how they are going to cope at the time of delivery and after.
“Pregnancies and childbirth can’t wait for emergencies or natural disasters to be over. This is when a woman and baby are vulnerable and need the most care.UNFPA Pakistan Representative Dr. Bakhtior Kadirov.
The United Nation Population Fund has estimated that almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas require health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth. Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support.
Almost 1000 health facilities have been partially or completely damaged in Sindh, while 198 facilities have also been destroyed in the affected districts of Baluchistan. The damage to the basic infrastructure like bridges and roads, has added salt to the injury as women’s access to healthcare has been further compromised.
Alongside the danger to the women in this looming crises, it also puts at risk the health of the newborn infants. It can either be lack of nutrition or the risk of contracting water-borne diseases. The nutrition are equally important for pregnant women as well as lactating women to ensure health to the infants.
There is an urgent need for the authorities to take notice of the life threats to women and provide medical and nutritional assistance to the flood-hit pregnant women in the rural areas of Pakistan. The world is lending
hand to help the flood stricken Pakistan, the authorities must devise a comprehensive plan in collaboration with international organizations such as UNFPA to render all possible assistance to the vulnerable pregnant women and infants.
Above all, there must be an effective disaster management plan drawn prior to any looming disaster, so that vulnerability faced by women in general, can be coped with through precautionary arrangements. Natural disasters can not be AVOIDED but they can definitely be MANAGED.