Intended for healthcare professionals


Concern grows for pregnant women and newborns in Pakistan

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 24 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4644
  1. Nayanah Siva
  1. 1London

    Health workers in Pakistan have raised concerns about the plight of pregnant women and newborn babies in flood stricken areas.

    The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has estimated that nearly 52 000 women are expected to give birth in the next three months, 53 000 newborns will need health care, and an additional 9000 women will need surgical intervention to deal with pregnancy related complications in the immediate future.

    “Millions of Pakistanis are suffering from this disaster, and they need international solidarity,” said UNFPA’s executive director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, in a statement. “Women have special needs because they continue to give birth regardless of the dangers surrounding them and require timely medical care to ensure safe delivery.”

    Three weeks after heavy monsoon rains, floods continue to wreak havoc in Pakistan as they move south. Nearly 20 million people have been affected by the worst flooding ever reported in the country, and 1500 people have died, says Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority.

    Senior UN officials are still very concerned about the lack of aid from the international community. On 19 August the organisation’s secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, speaking at the UN general assembly in New York, called for a massive increase in donations.

    Paul Garwood, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, spoke to the BMJ from Pakistan. He said, “There is a lot of aid being provided in terms of health, but the needs are huge and will continue for some time yet. Current needs are in terms of communicable disease control, vaccinations, restoring health facilities in a country where more than 200 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, delivering regular routine health care such as reproductive health, treatment for non-communicable disease, and strengthening the referral systems from lower to higher levels of care.”

    He confirmed that cholera is endemic in parts of the country and that the current focus is on “delivering the same kind of treatment for cholera—intravenous fluids [and] oral rehydration salts—to all people suffering from diarrhoeal diseases.”

    The number of new cases of acute diarrhoea each day continues to rise. In the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone 204 040 cases of acute diarrhoea, 263 356 of skin diseases, including scabies, and 204 647 of acute respiratory infections have been reported since 29 July.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4644