Press Release

Mobile Medical Units Ensure Safe Pregnancy and Childbirth for Earthquake Survivors

17 October 2005
Author: UNFPA

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Six mobile medical service units have begun providing care to families in two of the districts most affected by last week’s earthquake. In Muzzafarabad, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, one of the teams delivered three babies in its first day of operations at a government-run field hospital.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, sent the mobile units to Muzzafarabad and Mansehra, in North West Frontier Province, from other districts around the country. Some will be deployed in outlying areas once roads are cleared and other health facilities have been established in the cities.

As part of the United Nations coordinated response to the humanitarian crisis, UNFPA is helping to restore medical services, with a focus on safe motherhood. In two field hospitals, it is working to establish the capacity to handle obstetric emergencies.

In each mobile unit, a female doctor and a nurse-midwife serve an average of 250 patients per day. They offer women antenatal care and treat gynaecological conditions, while also addressing a wide range of ailments affecting children and adults who survived the earthquake.

Among the first group of patients were several pregnant women whose babies were stillborn as a result of the trauma they suffered in the 8 October disaster.

UNFPA-backed teams were already part of the district health staff in these hard-hit cities, enabling the Fund to respond quickly with eight truckloads of emergency medicines, equipment and supplies, as well as tents and blankets.

A larger quantity of emergency reproductive health supplies, sent by air from UNFPA’s storage facility in Denmark, is arriving this week. These supplies, including kits for clean delivery, will be used by the mobile units and distributed to health facilities run by the Government and non-governmental organizations.

The Fund is also procuring hygiene supplies—including soap, towels and warm clothing—for distribution by partner groups to displaced communities.

UNFPA is also making plans to provide psychosocial counselling for survivors, including adolescents. And it will work with others to ensure that camps for the displaced are designed to offer women protection and privacy.

After visiting Muzzafarabad and Mansehra, Dr. France Donnay, the UNFPA Representative in Pakistan, stressed the urgency of helping poor, traumatized families survive the increasingly harsh Himalayan weather. “Frail women and adolescent girls need protection against the elements,” she stressed, “and they also need adequate health care.”

As part of a consolidated humanitarian appeal for Pakistan, UNFPA is asking donors for $2.2 million to support reproductive health needs and $1 million for hygiene supplies.

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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact Information:

Islamabad: William A. Ryan, mobile +66 9 897 6984, ryanw@unfpa.org or Shahida Fazil, +92-51-2800133, Ext. 2388, fazil@unfpa.org

New York: Omar Gharzeddine/UNFPA, +1 212-297-5028, gharzeddine@unfpa.org

Pakistan
Population : 204.6 mil
Fertility rate
3.3
Maternal Mortality Ratio
178
Contraceptives prevalence rate
42
Population aged 10-24
29%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 49%
Girls 40%