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UAE Red Crescent reaches more patients in Pakistan

posted on 29/04/2006: 695 views

The UAE Red Crescent Society Medical Centre (UAE-RCS) in earthquake-crippled Balakot has been recording steadily growing numbers of patients as other emergency response groups wrap up operations in the region.

"We have seen our numbers of patients only grow since we were opened on February 3 and this month we are certain to have nearly three times what we had in our first month,” said Dr Jehangir Khan, administrator of the fiveroom clinic in Pakistani Kashmir contracted to run until July.

The medical centre provides 24-hour care with a women's private section, two-bed inpatient area, free dispensary and a single ambulance and is the last of its kind being operated by the UAE-RCS.

The four-doctor centre already sees up to 100 patients daily, most of them still requiring treatment for earthquake-related conditions, such as psychological disorders, dressing of wounds, and now, more typically, treatment for illness from the contaminated water supply. "We are getting many children in every day with gastroenteritis and roundworm infestation, all because the water infrastructure is still compromised because of earthquake damage,” said Dr Irfan Uddin, a medical officer at the clinic.

By the end of May, which is when the second wave of retractions are planned, the doctors fear their clinic may be one of the last ones left offering free treatment to local residents while the need will continue well into the next year.

The young doctors running the centre say they are happy and willing to stay on, and believe that if given more facilities, they may be able to better treat and diagnose their growing constituency. "Right now, we do not have a lab or even electricity most days, as the entire city has blackouts for many days at a time. There is going to be more pressure on this clinic, and while we have the trained staff to meet it, we do not have the equipment, and hope this can be addressed soon,” Dr Khan explained.

He said the clinic would be improved by a generator to provide electricity in blackouts, as well as testing systems for blood sugar, malaria and typhoid, as well as X-ray and ultrasound. The UAE Embassy in Islamabad said that an expansion of the UAE's medical presence in Pakistan was being discussed.

The UAE has been the fourth largest provider of assistance to Pakistan following the quake on October 8 that killed some 73,000, with a US$100 million (Dh367m) initial pledge that was later increased to US$200m (Dh734m). In the initial months following the disaster, the country set up a massive field hospital in Balakot as well as six mobile units that treated over 26,000 patients. (Emirates Today)


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