Key medical figures: 

  • 298,000 outpatient consultations
  • 22,160 births assisted
  • 3,730 surgical procedures

Health services in Pakistan are often unaffordable and in many regions, conflict and insecurity further restrict access.

In many parts of Pakistan sectarian violence is rife. Government forces are also engaged in military operations against armed opposition groups. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) programmes focus mainly on meeting urgent needs among communities affected by insecurity.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA

In Hangu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where many Afghan refugees and displaced people have settled, MSF works in the hospital’s emergency department and operating theatre, and a midwife supports maternity services. The team also organises patient referral to facilities in the provincial capital Peshawar. In Timergara, MSF provides full support to the emergency department and mother and child health centre, and a new building was constructed at the centre to accommodate growth in patient numbers. MSF operated treatment centres in Hangu and Timergara from July until October to respond to an increase in cases of acute watery diarrhoea. After more than five years supporting emergency, maternal and child healthcare in Dargai hospital, services were handed over to the Ministry of Health in August.

In Peshawar, MSF runs a 30-bed hospital specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, and also conducts antenatal and postnatal consultations in 11 health centres in the district. Staff at the health centres were able to identify and refer high-risk pregnancies or obstetric emergencies to the hospital.

MSF programmes in Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are staffed by Pakistani personnel, while management is based in Peshawar, with regular visits. The team provides paediatric services at hospitals in both the Shia community of Alizai and the Sunni enclave of Sadda.

Improving access to healthcare in Balochistan

Balochistan has some of the worst health indicators in Pakistan. It is frequently affected by sectarian and interethnic violence and natural disasters. MSF is mainly focused on the needs of pregnant women and children, and at all programmes in Balochistan, carries out nutrition and health promotion activities.

MSF provides neonatal, obstetric and paediatric care in Chaman and Dera Murad Jamali hospitals. A team also supports the emergency department in Chaman. In Quetta, MSF runs a 60-bed paediatric hospital and is opening a network of basic health units across the city. Not far from Quetta, in Kuchlak, a team runs a mother and child health clinic that has a birthing unit. Patients also receive treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disease that produces ulcers on the body, which can cause serious disability as well as social stigma. Mental health teams provide psychological and counselling services in both Quetta and Kuchlak.

Clinic opened in Karachi

In October, in partnership with local organisation SINA Health, Education and Welfare Trust, MSF opened a new clinic in Machar Colony, a settlement in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. The clinic provides basic healthcare and emergency services, including maternal healthcare, mental health services and stabilisation for patients in a critical condition.

Response to flooding

In September, eastern Balochistan was affected by severe flooding for the third consecutive year. MSF teams set up mobile clinics providing basic health services to people who were living on the roadside or in camps, and a treatment centre for diarrhoea. Safe drinking water was provided, latrines were constructed and relief items such as washing kits were distributed.

Amina’s* son was brought to the MSF nursery when he was 10 days old, weighing only 2.36 kg. He was diagnosed with tetanus.

A few days after my son was born, he started having fits and had a temperature. I delivered him under a makeshift tent near the Pat Feeder Canal.

My husband used to work on our landlord’s land. But the water came; it was shoulder high, and we lost everything. We have no shade, no home or land. We live on the side of the road. Thousands of families who lost their homes are now living there too.

When my son got sick, I pawned my earrings because we had nothing left to pay the doctors. However, when we came to the MSF hospital here, we were told the treatment is free, so I used the money from the earrings to buy food instead. It’s been a month since I sold my earrings. Now even the food is gone.

My son has been here for 25 days now. We had thought about taking him from the hospital and going home because we didn’t see an immediate change in his health. Now, though, he opens his eyes, and can slowly start to feed.

* The patient’s name has been changed.

No. staff end 2012: 1,404

Year MSF first worked in the country: 1986

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