Dr Bilal Anwer highlights need for disaster resilience health infrastructure

MN Report 06:14 PM, 19 Oct, 2022
Dr Bilal Anwer highlights need for disaster resilience health infrastructure

KARACHI: The Chief Executive Officer of the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF), Islamabad, Dr Bilal Anwer, stated that floods in 2022 had highlighted the significance of disaster-resilient health infrastructure for the country, as there was a dramatic shift in people's priorities immediately following a disaster, with health care services becoming the second most important priority after food.

According to the NDRMF Chief, one of the top goals in post-disaster response is the immediate delivery of lifesaving and livelihood support to the majority of impacted communities in accordance with their needs.

At the Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi, he spoke at a one-day hybrid seminar entitled "Building Climate-Resilient Healthcare Infrastructure: Post-Disaster Scenario in Pakistan."

According to Dr Bilal Anwer, the calamity imposed many strains on the health sector and disrupted the delivery of health services to individuals.

He stated, "As many as 6.3 million flood-affected people lost their domestic sanitation facilities, while 4.7 million flood-affected people do not wash their hands with soap during key times due to a lack of facilities and knowledge."

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the NDRMF offered a grant of USD 50 million for acquiring vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of its health assistance efforts. Prof Mohammad Wasay emphasised the significance of enhancing catastrophe prediction and preparing for future disasters. 

He stated, "According to the United Nations, an estimated 1,700 people have died, a third of them children, and 12,800 have been injured, while 500,000 flood refugees are staying in relief camps, primarily in Sindh." Due to the most severe flooding in Pakistan's recent history, more than three million children require humanitarian assistance and face an increased risk of sickness, drowning, and starvation, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.

He stated that over 15,000 skin infections, 14,000 cases of diarrheal disorders, and over 13,000 acute respiratory ailments are recorded daily at government-run medical camps.

Prof Wasay stated that more than 3 million people were still affected, with 500,000 residing in relief camps financed by provincial governments, PDMAs, and NGOs.

Prof Michael Patterson stated that climate change was Pakistan's greatest challenge. Pakistan is home to the Indus River, a massive river system. He stated that it is the nature of rivers to flood, but Pakistan is suffering an enormous flood in recorded history.

Prof Nibedita S. Ray Bennett discussed her research themes, stating that disaster education, maternal mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortion and post-abortion complications during disasters and crises, direct and indirect disaster deaths, snakebites during disasters and lightning deaths are the primary research topics.