Press Release

Pregnant Women at Risk Following Massive Earthquake in Pakistan

10 October 2005
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York — As trucks carrying life-saving medicine and surgical supplies began to arrive in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the area worst hit by Saturday’s devastating earthquake, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, issued an appeal today for $3.2 million to meet the urgent needs of women, including pregnant women and those with newborns.

Many hospitals in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Northwest Frontier Province were completely destroyed or made unusable by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which has left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Four UNFPA trucks of medicine and supplies were sent almost immediately after the quake struck. With the re-opening of the road to Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the Fund has dispatched four additional trucks of supplies and mobilized medical staff in other districts to assist local officials in humanitarian response and the assessment of additional health needs.

Tens of thousands of women in the affected areas are currently pregnant, and need adequate nutrition, medicines and antenatal care to deliver safely. Even in the best of circumstances, some 15 per cent of pregnant women also require emergency obstetric care to avoid maternal and infant deaths. The Fund is concerned that the physical and psychological trauma caused by Saturday’s devastating quake could push this figure even higher.

The UNFPA appeal includes $2.2 million for immediate maternal health and emergency obstetric care needs, and $1 million for emergency hygiene supplies. The Fund’s operational partners include the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid reminded donors and humanitarian partners on Monday that the unique needs of women must be a part of both initial response and longer-term planning.

“Our experience in responding to the earthquake in Bam, Iran, and to the tsunami, has confirmed that needs relating to pregnancy and hygiene must be addressed from the outset,” said Ms. Obaid. “Maternal care, including emergency obstetric care, saves lives. Hygiene supplies – including soap, washcloths, and clothing – are important to help people who have lost everything to maintain their dignity, and to ensure that the mobility of women is not impeded at this critical time.”

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UNFPA 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:

New York: David Del Vecchio, tel:+1 (212) 297- 4975, delvecchio@unfpa.org or
Omar Gharzeddine, tel:+1 (212) 297-5028, gharzeddine@unfpa.org

Bangkok: William A. Ryan, tel:+66 2 288 2446, ryanw@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%