Pakistan: “We set up a mobile clinic in my flood-affected village”
An aid worker with Doctors Without Borders talks about losing her home in the floods and providing care in the aftermath
Monsoon rains have caused devastating flooding across Pakistan, leaving one-third of the country under water. Millions of people have lost their homes and are sleeping in makeshift shelters without access to clean drinking water or health care. Many health structures are damaged and non-functional. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing medical humanitarian aid in Pakistan since 1986 and our teams are currently responding to the floods, distributing emergency supplies and safe water, and providing medical care for health issues related to the disaster.
Akeela has worked as an outreach counselor with MSF since 2020 in Dera Murad Jamali, a city in southwestern Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Before the flooding, Akeela and her team visited the surrounding communities to raise awareness about maternal and child health and various diseases.
Akeela’s village, about three miles from the city, was completely submerged by the floods. After losing her home, she is now working with MSF’s emergency response team in the area. Here she describes having to evacuate her village and how her team is providing aid in the aftermath.
It was the month of August and oddly we were receiving more continuous rains than normal years. On August 17, the water started coming towards our village and we were asked to leave immediately.
In the rush, my parents and younger siblings left the village and thankfully we had our uncle’s home in Dera Murad Jamali, so they shifted there. One brother and one sister were left behind to take care of our cattle, as my family had a herd of cows and goats. They took the cattle to higher ground but when they saw the flood water start to cover the village, they had to flee.
My siblings took shelter and climbed up the rooftop of a nearby house. They watched as the water started to rise, and our cattle, houses, and farm all washed away. The water came up to eight or nine feet high.
It was so heartbreaking to see our house and village underwater.
I initially took leave for a week to support my family. But when I saw that so many people needed help, and I received a call from MSF requesting support for the emergency response, I couldn’t stop myself from saying yes.
In our mobile clinics, we see patients with respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria, and skin infections.
Within two days, I was on duty conducting assessments in flood-affected villages. We reached faraway villages and found families living without shelter. I saw some people using two wooden beds pushed together with plastic covers as shade on the side of the road. They did not have a home or enough food or clean drinking water. Still, the rain continued, on and off.
The first village we visited was Rabi Pull and Uch Power Plant camp where we set up a mobile clinic and provided clean drinking water. The water was sourced from MSF’s gravity-fed water treatment plant in Dera Murad Jamali. It’s one of the few water treatment plants available in the region.
In our mobile clinics, we see patients with respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria, and skin infections. The people here are drinking and using the flood water, which is contaminated and is spreading several diseases.
Our doctors are completing checkups, providing medications, and referring pregnant women and people who require specialist care to an MSF facility in the District Headquarters Hospital, in Dera Murad Jamali.
We have also distributed 236 hygiene kits to people near Uch Power Plant where internally displaced people are taking shelter. We have so far provided 70,000 liters [about 18,500 gallons] of clean drinking water to displaced families and medical consultations to around 2,575 patients at different locations in Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, and Dera Murad Jamali, Balochistan province.
The people of my village know my work with MSF well, as I also visited them many times during our outreach activities.
We set up a mobile clinic in my flood-affected village — Mir Gul Hassan Manju Shori Barun Naseerabad. As we were moving towards my village, I felt a sense of satisfaction.
The people of my village know my work with MSF well, as I also visited them many times during our outreach activities. I was part of MSF’s emergency team providing support to the communities and my community was one of them.
All the houses in my village, including my house, are still in water and they will take up to a month to completely dry out.
In one of our medical [clinics], there were a few families on the other side of the flood water. There was a family with three children [who] had a high fever. I watched as the parents crossed the flood water, seeking treatment for their children.
But many people in other more remote villages are still waiting for help to arrive.
I can feel their pain as many have left their houses and are living in camps without help. Some of them are also cut off from the cities and access is difficult.
They are a reminder of why we continue our daily mobile clinics and provide clean drinking water to the displaced families.