KARACHI: Instead of waiting for “dollars from the West’, Pakistan should learn from the experience of Bangladesh which has faced massive floods throughout its history, national and international experts have suggested, urging the authorities to invest in the establishment of climate resilient and environmentally sustainable primary-care health facilities throughout the country.
“Pakistan should learn from the authorities and people of Bangladesh, which was previously part of Pakistan, how to deal and live with floods. Pakistan is land of Indus, which has the potential to drown a large portion of the country in future and such events will happen again, so there is a need to invest in climate resilient, environmentally sustainable healthcare infrastructures,” Prof Michael Petterson, who has a PhD on Geology and Geochemistry of Northern Areas of Pakistan, told a moot on Monday.
Speaking at a hybrid moot on “Building Climate Resilient Healthcare Infrastructure: Post Disasters Scenario in Pakistan” at the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi, Prof Petterson said Pakistan is going to face more challenges like super-floods of 2010 and monster monsoons of 2022 and warned that rich countries will not give dollars to Pakistan if it is looking for compensation for climate change effects.
“What Pakistan needs to do is to either tame the river like United States, China and India or learn to live with the River Indus. Once the average temperature of world becomes 18 degree Celsius, clouds will carry more water and there would be more floods and droughts in Pakistan,” he said and urged the authorities and people to gain self-reliance, adopt climate resilient technologies and learn to live with extreme weather events,” he added.
The CEO of the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF), Islamabad, Dr Bilal Anwer said that floods in 2022 had emphasised the importance of disaster resilience health infrastructure for the country, as there was a dramatic shift in the priorities of people soon after a disaster and the healthcare services became the second most top priority after food.
One of the major priorities in post-disaster response is an urgent delivery of lifesaving and livelihood assistance in most affected areas in line with their needs, the NDRMF chief said.
He said the disaster imposed multiple pressures on the health system and caused disruption in providing health services to people. “As many as 6.3 million people affected by floods lost their household sanitation facilities while 4.7 million affected persons are not practising handwashing with soap at critical times due to lack of facilities and limited awareness.”
In connection with the health support activities, the NDRMF has provided a grant of $50 million during the Covid-19 pandemic for the procurement of vaccines and personal protective equipment, he said.
Prof Mohammad Wasay underlined the importance for improving disaster predictability and preparation for the disasters coming in future. He said, “The UN reports an estimated 1,700 people have lost their lives, a third of them children, and 12,800 have been injured, while half a million-flood displaced are living in relief camps; largely in Sindh.”
The UN children’s agency said more than three million children were in need of humanitarian assistance and stood at heightened risk of diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s recent history, he said.
Over 15,000 cases of skin infection cases, around 14,000 cases of diarrheal diseases and more than 13,000 cases of acute respiratory illnesses are being reported daily at government-run medical camps, he said.
Prof Wasay said more than three million people were still displaced, while half a million were in relief camps, supported by provincial governments, PDMAs and NGOs.
Prof Nibedita S. Ray Bennett talked about her research themes, and said that disaster education, maternal mortality and morbidity from an unsafe abortion and post-abortion complications during disasters and crises, direct and indirect disaster deaths, snakebite deaths during disasters, and lightning deaths are the major research themes.
Organisers said the moot was jointly organised by Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, the Avoidable Deaths Network, and UK, Sindh Innovation Research Educational Network.
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