APPNA Responds to Baluchistan Earthquake
By Dr M. Shahid Yousuf
Chicago, IL: How quickly an organization mobilizes itself in disaster relief is often a measure of its effectiveness. Hours and minutes often make the difference between life and death for the victims of disasters. The earthquake struck on 29th October 2008 and almost immediately telephonic contacts were established with APPNA’s Pakistan-based volunteers. Damage assessment was undertaken.
The first teleconference of the Social Welfare and Disaster Relief Committee of APPNA took place the next day. By this time the various chapters of APPNA had begun to chart out their fund raising events. An e-mail message was set out to the membership from the SW$DR Committee of APPNA for the donations. APPNA President, Dr. Mahmood Alam, in his communiqué to the Presidents of the APPNA Chapters and Alumni Associations, appealed for an immediate response collection of relief funds for the victims of the earthquake. Dr. Alam said, “APPNA must respond immediately to assist in the medical relief, supply of food and shelter”.
At this time some $50,000 has already been raised with half already sent to Pakistan for purchase of tents, food packages, blankets, galvanized steel sheets for construction of shelters and medicines. Plans are to hire two lady doctors for two weeks to one month duration for immediate acute medical needs of women and children in APPNA’s area of operations. Pakistan ’s APPNA volunteer Dr. Saeed Akhtar has already visited Ziarat and adjoining areas for facilitating the disbursement of goods and serves to the selected sites. Owing to poor road conditions and sparse population supply to some 100 households is the current scope of APPNA’s operations.
During the fall most APPNA chapters hold their second meeting of the year. Various chapters have already raised sums and the totals rise each day. In addition, some communities such as New Orleans decided to give part of their funds ( $20,000) raised for Ziarat Earthquake to APPNA in addition to Edhi Foundation and Red Crescent Society of Pakistan. This was announced by Dr. Mohammad Suleman, former APPNA president who on behalf of APPNA had worked with the communities of New Orleans during the Katrina hurricane (August ’05).
Dr. Fauzia Wali Khan, President of New England Chapter reported that $ 10,000 has been raised while APPNA Secretary Dr. Sajid Chaudhary has reported that Florida Chapter has raised $12,5000. Chicago based Pakistan Physicians’ Society, an APPNA Chapter, has pledged $10,000 at its annual dinner on November 8, 2008. Numerous other chapters are in the process of holding their chapter meetings and raising funds.
Apart from funds raised by chapters a number of individual donations are being made directly towards APPNA’s efforts in Pakistan. Dr. Omar Atiq, former president of APPNA, has directed his family foundation to disburse Rs. 10 lakh to APPNA account immediately. Dr. Zeelaf Munir, president-elect 2010, has made arrangements for food packages to include biscuits donated by Peek Freens Co. (Pakistan). Biscuits in packages proved to survive even air drops during the Kashmir earthquake efforts in 2005.
APPNA is in touch with the National Disaster Management Authority (of Pakistan ) and has sought ways to solve logistical and supply problems. The Frontier Constabulary, a Federal Government entity in Baluchistan, has a keen understanding of the terrain and has manpower to assist in relief has been contacted and is being utilized in disbursement of relief supplies.
Being one of the many medical organizations involved in disaster relief, APPNA has gained some degree of expertise in bringing to the disaster site high end and sophisticated medical manpower. During the 2005 Azad Kashmir and NWFP earthquake (’05), APPNA was able to bring not only equipment such as C-arms, defibrillators but also equipped several operating theatres from the ground up. During the Azad Kashmir earthquake APPNA raised almost $2 million in funds alone and many times that in intangible services in the area such as direct medical and surgical services to the patients.