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A race to save pregnant women and newborns in flood-hit Pakistan

Amina was sitting in a small, Suffocating – Hot blue plastic tents double as examination rooms in an internally displaced persons relief camp on the outskirts of the small town of Metropolis in Pakistan’s Sindh province. It was an unbearably hot day in late September and the sun was blazing. To protect her privacy, we will use only her first name with all mothers in this story to identify Amina, who is a member of Pregnant women waiting to be examined by midwives Neha Mankani and Jahan Zuberi from Mama Baby Fund, a Karachi-based welfare fund In providing in-kind donations and emergency financial support to vulnerable expecting mothers.

Amina is in her third trimester and has a fever. She complained of limb fatigue, lethargy and weakness. When Mankani massaged her abdomen with a portable ultrasound device, she discovered that Amina was pregnant with twins. This is a high-risk pregnancy. A flurry of activity ensued as Mankani tried to arrange for Amina to go to the nearest government hospital for further tests.

“I can’t leave the camp,” Amina insisted. “I have children in the tent. If I’m not here, who will take care of them?”

If Amina was at her village home, she would rely on her community to help her when she went to the hospital. But now, her support network has been cut off due to the unprecedented flooding and record monsoon rains that hit Pakistan this summer, displacing her from her home. She is also hungry, thirsty, dehydrated, and possibly even anemic.
as one of about 2, 98 Living in internally displaced persons tent relief camp in the single, Amina is lucky if she can get two very basic meals a day. Every toddler in this camp seems to be malnourished. Mothers who are malnourished and unable to produce milk do not have formula to feed their babies.

Rescue Camp

Hamna Zubair

Image may contain Human Person Tent and CampingImage may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari

Rescue near flooded land Camp

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari Hamna Zubair

Another mum-to-be, Shehzadi, brought her toddler with her when the midwife tried to negotiate with Amina. She said her toddler, a girl named Solat, was three years old. But the child seems to barely exceed months, crying non-stop. Shehzadi said she had been living in the refugee camp for two months. Displacement took a clear toll on her children’s health.

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari

“I want to go back to my home”, near the village of Khuda Baksh Jamali, she said. “But people say I can’t go back. The water hasn’t receded. Can you give me some milk?”

A woman receiving midwife advice Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and SariHamna Zubair

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari

This summer’s catastrophic flooding in Pakistan More than 1 time, 87 The number of deaths and displacement is approximately

millions of people leave their homes. Sindh and Balochistan in southwestern Pakistan remain the worst-hit provinces. Beginning in late August, as record rainfall and glacial melt brought water into the plains of Sindh, it poured into fields growing cotton, into pastures where cattle graze, and into those who harvest crops and tend livestock. people’s houses, making them homeless.

Some of these families are now living in relief camps in several drylands outside the metropolitan area. This is the same area that Angelina Jolie, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ special envoy, visited in late September. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Jolie said at the time. “Families slept under open skies and lost everything in these floods.”

This is the void that health care workers are desperately trying to fill – from displacement A potentially fatal period between the due date.

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In Dadu District, thousands of canvas tents whitened by the sun swarmed in groups are clustered on both sides of an elevated one-lane highway. A family of five, six, eight, or even a dozen or so lives in a tent. Every displaced person struggles with hunger, heat stroke, dehydration and gastrointestinal problems. Even so, some people are more vulnerable than others—such as pregnant women, nursing mothers, and new-born babies. With little access to flooded area hospitals, not even the traditional village midwives (midwives) they usually turn to, expecting mothers are helpless.

This is how health care workers who specialize in prenatal care are desperately filling the void – the potentially deadly period between displacement and due date. Neha Mankani and Jahan Zuberi traveled more than 89 km in order to inspect the Dadu rescue camp for displaced pregnant women and deliver hundreds of what they call safe delivery kits.

A mother receives baby food for her child Relief camps near flooded land Hamna Zubair

Each of these kits contains the basic materials a mother-to-be may need if she is to give birth in a relief camp: lie on a clean tarp, cut the umbilical cord with a sterile blade, wear a clean set of clothes for the newborn , as well as essential vitamins such as folic acid.

Seven years ago, Mankani discovered the gap in prenatal care while working at a low-income hospital in Karachi, where she started the Mom Baby Fund . She also started seeing patients two years ago in a small fishing village called Baba Island, off the coast of Karachi. Baba Island is only accessible by boat, and pregnant women are at risk during the monsoon season as communities are often cut off completely.

“My work with this community has helped me better understand the impact of lack of access to expectant mothers,” Mankani said. So when the first wave of floods hit Sindh earlier this summer, she only took

Go to the affected area Safe Delivery Kit. She soon received messages from local relief groups demanding thousands of disaster relief kits.

The Mama Baby Fund’s work areas in the flooding are not limited to distributing these kits. “We had a woman who had a lot of miscarriages because she had diabetes,” Mankani said. “She is insulin-dependent, and because she lives in camp, she doesn’t have access to medication. We put her on insulin, and we put her on a blood sugar monitor. These little things definitely make a difference in a woman’s pregnancy and quality of care.”

a safe The delivery kit Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Festival Crowd Footwear Shoe Kiran Sonia Sawar Silk and Sari Hamna Zubair

A child in a relief camp Relief camps near flooded land Hamna Zubair

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Larger organizations have also mobilized their resources to help vulnerable pregnant women. Sarah Saleem sits on a bustling university campus in central Karachi, her office packed with research papers. She is a professional obstetrician and developed an interest in research early in her career. She now heads the Population and Reproductive Health Unit at Aga Khan University, one of Pakistan’s most prestigious medical schools.

By late August, her team noticed the movement of displaced people from nearby flood-affected areas into the Tata district east of Karachi, Salim Find yourself in relief camps in the area providing basic care to pregnant women. The job became even more urgent when a new mother at the camp died shortly after giving birth. “She is anemic and now her child is being looked after by her 8-year-old daughter,” Salim said. “In our normal working lives, we don’t provide services – we collect data,” Saleem continued. “But in this crisis, we are mobilizing all the resources of the university to help the displaced.”

Large volunteer teams have started working with Sa Lim cooperated in the relief camp. In cases where doctors cannot help directly, they teach local midwives how to use the basic relief package to ensure a safer delivery. Midwives were also provided with solar-powered lights to use during night births, as the relief camp had no electricity. Over the past few weeks, local midwives have successfully delivered a number of babies using the kit and advice provided by the Salem team.

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“We’re learning something the hard way,” Salim admits. “Even if the baby was born safely, we realized that displaced mothers had no clothes to dress their newborns. So we also started offering expectant mothers a baby outfit.”

Neha Mankani for exam

what Mna Zubair

Relief camps near flooded land

On the other side of Karachi, Sheba A Shraf is also dealing with an unprecedented scale of health care challenges for flood-related mothers and children. As Director of the Primary Care Program at Indus Hospital, Ashraf oversees the nationwide network of primary care facilities, including mobile units. Ashraf outlines the challenges already facing vulnerable populations: “Most displaced women are already malnourished; they have multiple children under five. On top of that, we are seeing diarrhoea, malaria, dengue and other viral diseases and other acute problems.”

Shocking 15.7% of women of reproductive age in Pakistan suffer from anemia, according to a recent UNICEF report. Over the past few years, COVID- further reducing access to health care, severely impacting maternal and child health in South Asia. While able-bodied displaced people may be able to return to their communities to help rebuild efforts when the water finally recedes, new mothers may stay in camps to care for their newborns, requiring ongoing assistance until winter. They risk being forgotten by the world.

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While able-bodied displaced persons may be able to return to their communities when the water recedes, new mothers may remain in camps.

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However, for expectant mothers like Amina and Sheikh Zadi, in addition to the current need Other than that, there is not much to satisfy. Haleema, a young mother who had five miscarriages and just as many children, soon joined the mom-and-baby foundation’s pop-up clinic. As Mankani examined her, Halimah recounted how she went to the local hospital to receive all her previous deliveries. Now she lives in a relief camp and she doesn’t know where to go.

After Haleema The next patient was Parveen. By now, the queue of expectant mothers waiting outside the clinic has grown dramatically. Word spreads rapidly in the relief camp, and women rush to get tested and receive medicines for various ailments.

A few steps from the clinic, a car from another A van of a relief group stopped to distribute water to displaced families. In a brutal twist of fate, the abundant floodwaters surrounding the rescue camp were polluted, festering and unfit for human consumption, while drinking water was scarce.

People displaced by floods line up for drinking water

Hamna Zubair

As Mankani stepped out to catch her breath, an officer overseeing the relief camp told her she needed to transfer her patients to Another tent. Men need to use this tent to pray.

Amina disappears into the crowd with her kit as a long line of expectant mothers shuffles to a new location Medium. She has committed to taking her vitamins and using all the aids in the kit. Will her twins be born healthy? Will she go to the hospital if her birth starts to go south? The lives of her and her unborn child hang in the balance, with only a few tired but tenacious rescuers working to ensure she is safe to bring new life into the world.




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