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SOGC supports relief efforts in Pakistan

Following the earthquake in Haiti, SOGC members demonstrated outstanding generosity by donating funds to be used for maternal and newborn health services. In any natural disaster, the lack of clean drinking water, food, shelter and health care facilities puts pregnant women at increased risk.

Pakistan is now experiencing hardships similar to Haiti and, once again, our help is needed.

The flooding in Pakistan has affected an estimated 21 million people - more than the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake and the Haiti earthquake all together. Sadly, even though the floods have had such a devastating impact, there has been far less relief funding received from donors and the international community. Whether the shortfall of donations are due to a weariness of the stability of Pakistan government or to a fatigue from the continuous demands to donate after giving so generously to Haiti, it does not change the situation that there is a great need in Pakistan, one that we cannot ignore.

More than 200 health facilities throughout Pakistan have been washed away, leaving the remaining clinics overcrowded and unable to respond to the needs of all patients. There are approximately 500,000 pregnant women in Pakistan who have been affected by the floods and an estimated 1.5 million women of reproductive age who will need services such as emergency obstetric care, family planning, and clinical response to sexual violence. To exacerbate the situation even further, cultural factors, such as the Pakistan custom of female patients being treated only by female doctors, have created an even greater demand for health workers.

To address Pakistan's high maternal mortality rate (320 / 100000 live births) before the flooding occurred, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Pakistan (SOGP) has been working to improve women's access to health care services by upgrading three facilities in the Thatta region, as part of the FIGO Saving Mothers and Newborns Project. Working in partnership with the Swedish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the SOGP has made great efforts to increase accessibility and improve the quality of care offered in the region.

This project, which will come to an end on October 31st, has had many successes, including: ensuring essential equipment, supplies and drugs; providing in-service training; ensuring the presence of skilled attendants; improving referral mechanisms; and increasing awareness and demand of maternal health services at the community level. Since the project started in 2006, there has been an increase in the number of antenatal clinic visits, the number of referrals and the number of women delivering within health facilities, as well as a decrease in the number of stillbirths.

After so much hard work was put into the FIGO Saving Mothers and Newborns Project and so many successes celebrated, it is very difficult to see the setbacks brought forward by the flooding and the incredible challenges that lie ahead. The SOGP has mobilized its members in all provinces to respond to the needs of flood victims, to provide mother and child services, to introduce health and hygiene education and motivation, as well as to train local midwives and lady health workers. In particular, the Thatta area of Pakistan, where the FIGO projects are rolled out, was severely affected and maternal needs are acute.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Pakistan have solicited assistance from FIGO member associations to assist them in their efforts to reestablish and strengthen access to maternal and newborn health services throughout the country. Having worked closely with SOGP through managing the FIGO Saving Mothers and Newborns Projects in Pakistan, the SOGC is pleased to make a donation for the amount of $ 10 000 to be used for relief efforts within the three health facilities of the Thatta region.

The SOGC encourages all members to support SOGP's efforts during this time of incredible need by making a donation to the Canadian Foundation for Women's Health's Pakistan Relief Fund. All donations received will be transferred directly to SOGP for use at the Thatta region health facilities which are already in place and which we have worked closely with since 2006.

Let us show not only our generosity, but also our utmost dedication to ensuring safe motherhood for the most vulnerable populations.

Make a donation to CFWH's Pakistan Relief Fund

Read SOGP's appeal to FIGO member associations

Read the Lancet article ‘The unfolding human tragedy in Pakistan: fighting alone' by Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta

Read the IPS article ‘Floods Bring Out Another Crisis - Maternal Risks' by Zofeen Ebrahim


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