Providing Healthcare in Kashmir
In order to provide for the people of Battal, especially women and children, Islamic
Relief USA, with the assistance of its generous donors in the United States, has built,
furnished and equipped a BHU for the locals
Breathless and eight months pregnant, 22-year-old Rashida Nazir walks two and a half hours up and down steep mountain trails, that in some areas are only fit for goats, for a medical check-up.
“Please don’t feel bad. Be happy for me. I’d walk twice this much if it means at the end I’ll have a hospital to go to,” she shared with an Islamic Relief staff member in Battal, Pakistan administered Kashmir.
“Because of Islamic Relief, we now have a health facility that we can count on. For me the health of my unborn child is very important and I only want the best for him or her.”
Rashida, a first time mother-to-be, lives in the remote village Battal in the Muzaffarabad district of Azad Kashmir. Being in her last stages of pregnancy, she is nervous of the days to come but has faith in the newly established Islamic Relief basic health unit (BHU) that provides medical services to over 40,000 individuals in the area.
Healthcare in Kashmir
Even before the earthquake struck on October 8, 2005, health facilities in the region were severely limited and many people struggled to get the care and treatment they needed. After the disaster, the situation deteriorated rapidly – around half of all health facilities in the eight affected districts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province were completely destroyed and a quarter were seriously damaged.
Tragically many health staff members were killed or injured which left a severe shortage of trained medical personnel to help those affected by the earthquake.
Islamic Relief offers a new beginning
(Left): Shahid Afridi enquires about the health a patient. (Right): A doctor examines
In order to provide for the people of Battal, especially women and children, Islamic Relief USA, with the assistance of its generous donors in the United States, has built, furnished and equipped a BHU for the locals.
The health center includes a mother-and-child healthcare unit, a delivery room, an operating theatre, a vaccination center, and a pharmacy. Accommodation for health staff is also provided, helping ensure the retention of quality medical professionals in remote, rural Battal.
The BHU serves over 40,000 residents in the surrounding mountainous areas. In accordance with the Ministry of Health, Kashmir, Islamic Relief has made sure that the government’s guidelines are met and construction is earthquake resistant.
Upon completion of the building, and equipping it with appropriate materials and tools, Islamic Relief officially handed over the health center to the local government in December, 2008 for maintenance and operation. However, Islamic Relief remains closely involved in monitoring the activities of the health center and making sure that quality service is provided at all times.
“About 60-70 outpatients visit the health facility on a daily basis from the neighboring villages with illnesses ranging from reproductive health cases and urinary tract infections in women to respiratory tract infections mainly in children.” says Dr. Mohammad Shabir Qureishi, medical office at the BHU.
There is also a fully stocked and functional pharmacy at the BHU where patients are provided with free medications upon prescription from the doctor or medical officer. Referrals of complex cases are constantly done to the closest, more advanced hospitals.
Afridi Offers Comfort
In March 2009, Shahid Afridi along with the Islamic Relief team visited the BHU in Battal. During his visit, Afridi met with the medical staff, whom he congratulated for their exemplary work, patients and community members. He encouraged the local population to continue working with Islamic Relief to make the healthcare unit a success and a symbol of pride for the area.
The local people warmly welcomed Afridi and extended their hospitality that was much appreciated. In his conversations with the elders of the community, Shahid Afridi praised their dedication to helping Islamic Relief improve healthcare in the area, especially for women and children.
Healthcare needs, especially reproductive healthcare, for women in the area are great. Due to limited resources and access to proper healthcare, women are deprived of this basic right.
Before Islamic Relief’s intervention, health facilities in Battal where women could go for medical help did not exist.
An old man’s prayer
“We are grateful to Allah and then Islamic Relief for coming to our help and providing us with a health facility of the highest standards without any pleas from us. This is an honor for our village. After the earthquake, we thought the world had forgotten us, but Allah sent Islamic Relief in answer to our prayers. May you, and all those who have helped made this a reality, continue to serve humanity and make a difference,” said Mir Muhammad Munier, a senior member of the Battal community.
Fundraising for Pakistan
The benefit dinners for Pakistan, which will be held in four cities across the United States, aim to raise awareness about Islamic Relief’s emergency relief and development projects in Pakistan.
Islamic Relief will start this Pakistan benefit tour with Afridi and Khan in May of this year, starting in Los Angeles, CA on May 9; then traveling to Bellevue, WA on May 10; Houston, TX on May 16; and ending in Dallas, TX on May 17.
Contact: (800) 617-7238 www.irw.org/pakistan