Sunday, December 12, 2010

The doctor on a mission in flood-hit Pakistan

The doctor on a mission in flood-hit Pakistan

An endless line of people patiently wading through the water, along the submerged highway - babies on the women's backs, furniture hoisted over the heads of the men.
This is the scene that I see from my vantage point perched on top of a huge police truck forging through the floods towards the town of Dera Allah Yar.
Beside me is Doctor Shershah Syed, a famous surgeon from Karachi who is bringing medicines and aid to the hospital in the town.

We pass a lorry toppled on its side - the men sitting on top tell us they've been there for four days waiting for someone to rescue them.
It is six weeks after the floods struck and there is no sign of government relief effort in the area. "This is a tragedy beyond my imagination," Doctor Shershah tells me.
"Pakistan and this province and the whole country will go back 50 years because of the floods," he adds.

Donor reluctance The World Bank estimates that damaged infrastructure alone will cost nearly $10bn (£6.3bn) and Pakistan is a country already deeply in debt. Millions of people are relying on food aid as they will not be able to grow rice and wheat until next year.

When we reach the hospital they are still pumping out the water and the yard is full of mud. The doctors show us the water mark - high above our heads and the ruined medicines and equipment piled in the corridors.

We are the first people to get through with aid supplied by the British Midland Doctors Association. The hospital has received nothing from the government which has struggled to cope with the scale of the disaster.
Donors have been reluctant to give to a country with a reputation for militancy and corruption and the UN has only raised half of the $2bn it pledged to the flood victims.
But people are willing to give to concerned individuals like Doctor Shershah, who through the Pakistan Medical Association is co-ordinating distribution of food and medicine in flood hit areas.

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