Pregnant women hit the hardest by flood – 14 Sep 2022

Thousands of elderly, children need urgent care, highlights survey report

Around 110,000 pregnant women in flood-hit districts of Punjab require antenatal, delivery and post-natal care, revealed a report compiled by a non-governmental organisation, the Population Council (PC).

According to the report, about 940,000 children under five years old require immunisation and care in the affected areas.

Around 220,000 people aged above 65 years also need special attention and care in the wake of the sufferings and damage caused by the flood.

According to the researchers, thousands of pregnant women residing in the relief camps and flood-hit areas are facing critical issues in the worst circumstances after the natural disaster. Although people of all age groups have suffered, the most tough situation has been faced by pregnant women.

Their plight was highlighted as the Population Council released a survey report about the destruction and sufferings of the people in the flood-hit districts. The report was compiled following the Population and Housing Census 2017 and the pregnancy rate was drawn following the Punjab Multiple-Indicator Cluster Survey 2017-18.

According to the survey, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and Mianwali were the three districts of Punjab severely affected by the flood. Eight districts suffered moderate impact. They are Layyah, Rahim Yar Khan, Hafizabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Bahawalnagar, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib.

Some districts also suffered minor damage from the flood, including Vehari, Lodhran, Kasur, Narowal and Khanewal.

The report on population estimates and vulnerabilities of flood affectees in Punjab pointed out that the pregnant women needed maximum attention of the departments engaged in flood relief activities.

“The most affected districts in Punjab are also among those ranking among the lowest as far as the socio-economic indicators are concerned. They are also among the districts with the highest rural population and higher number of pregnant women and children under five years of age. Incidentally, these districts also fall in the category of high unmet need of family planning, which contributes to higher number of unintended pregnancies and increased fertility,” Population Council Senior Director Dr Ali Mir said regarding the findings of the survey.

He said nearly half of the total deaths caused by floods were of children. A natural catastrophe like the current flooding compounds vulnerabilities of women, newborns and children under five years of age. Comprehensive efforts are needed for preparedness and response to emergencies of high magnitude.

“Calamities will continue to hit our country as we are at the forefront of climate change effects, but our focus should be on preventive measures to avoid loss of precious human lives,” he added.

Punjab health department spokesman Sayed Hamad Raza said, “Our teams, following Punjab government instructions, are already in the flood-hit districts with all types of medical specialists, including gynaecologists. Our teams are providing treatment and first aid to the people and we made maximum medical arrangements in the affected districts.”

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