In northern Pakistan, a military campaign aimed at Taliban militants has led to a humanitarian crisis for hundreds of thousands of civilians, especially including pregnant women, Ashfaq Yusufzai reports for Inter Press Service.
On June 15, 2014, Pakistan army air raids in Northern Pakistan forced many civilians from their homes and into neighboring provinces. Officials estimate the number of displaced at around 580,000, half of which are women. As a result of these air strikes, the ancient city of Bannu is now home to many refugees and some 40,000 pregnant women, who lack access to basic medical supplies and care. According to Fayyaz Ali, a public health expert in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, “In Pakistan, 350 women die per 100,000 live births from pregnancy-related complications. In FATA [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas], the situation is extremely bad, with 500 women dying for every 100,000 live births. The situation warrants urgent attention.” [For comparison, in the U.S. for 2013, the rate was 18.5 per 100,000 live births, which is more than triple the rate in the U.K.]
While many women are dying due to these harsh conditions, others survive only to suffer stillbirths and miscarriages. Malnutrition compounds the medical emergency.
Health experts from neighboring countries are doing their best to aid the refugee camps, but due to the amount of displaced persons there are not enough help to save everyone. According to Fawad Khan, Health Cluster and Emergency Coordinator for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Pakistan, approximately thirty percent of internally displaced women are at risk of delivery-related complications. This situation that could “easily be addressed” by upgrading existing facilities and assuring that women have access to gynecologists for pre- and post-natal care.
Source: Ashfaq Yusufzai, “Displacement Spells Danger for Pregnant Women in Pakistan,” Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), October 8, 2014, http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/10/displacement-spells-danger-for-pregnant-women-in-pakistan/.
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