UN health agency speeds medical supplies to help quake victims in Pakistan

9 October 2005

As teams continue to search for survivors amid the rubble of yesterday's massive earthquake in Pakistan, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is rushing supplies to the country to bolster its strained capacity to treat the injured.

"For the next 48 hours relief efforts will focus on search and rescue," said Dr. Khalif Bile Mohamud, the agency's representative in Pakistan . “Many of the survivors being pulled from the rubble suffer from trauma type wounds necessitating emergency care.”

Hospitals, themselves damaged or even destroyed by the disaster, are overwhelmed as they try to cope with the mounting casualties, according to WHO. “As a result of the increased number of injured people, shortages in surgical supplies have been reported,” Dr. Mohamud said.

In response, WHO has provided two new emergency health kits each containing essential medical supplies covering the needs of 10,000 people for three months. Five more of these, along with ten trauma kits each sufficient for 100 surgical interventions, will be sent in the coming days.

The Geneva-based agency, which is supporting Pakistan's Ministry of Health in responding to the emergency, has dispatched 17 national surgical teams to the most affected districts. Each team includes surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists and operating theatre technicians. WHO and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will provide supplies and cover local costs incurred by these teams for the coming weeks.

“WHO has also deployed 14 international experts in public health, epidemiology, health systems, logistics and water and sanitation,” said Dr, Ala Alwan, WHO Representative for Health Action in Crises.

 

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