News / Asia

Pakistan Floods Putting Thousands of Pregnant Women at Risk

Ira Mellman

The floods that inundated many parts of Pakistan have left many of the most vulnerable parts of the population at great risk. They are the unborn, the newly born and their mothers.

The numbers are staggering. Of the 18 million people affected by the floodwaters, an estimated 70 percent of them are women and children.

The World Health Organization estimates that half a million Pakistani women caught by the flooding will give birth over the next six months, and about 32,000 of them will experience complications.

Health authorities say thousands of expectant mothers are at risk. Many have been marooned by the flood waters and cut off from urgently needed medical care.

Shama Mai is living with her family in a camp in Mahmood Kot. She is surviving on a daily handful of boiled rice and grains.

Thousands of flies swarm the sweat-soaked women, most of who haven’t bathed in a month because there is no water, toilet or privacy.

Some have been forced to deliver in tents on their own, using dirty water without even a towel or blanket to clean and wrap their newborns.

Mai says she’s pregnant and doesn't know where she’ll deliver her baby. “I’m sleeping on a bed on the roadside, no one is helping us. She says “if someone can help us, please, for God’s sake, help us,” she pleads.

Sughra Ramzan was eight months pregnant with her seventh child when the Indus River began to swallow up the land. She slogged through snake-infested waters on foot and by boat to reach a doctor.

She says “It was very difficult to come here but finally I reached the hospital and the doctor could check me. First I could find some transport but then I had to walk through flood water and then finally got a boat.”

She was given an ultrasound, some medicine and told to come back in five days.

Ramzan said she felt better after returning to her village. So she stayed at home instead trying again to make the 40-kilometre journey on foot, boat and bus for a check-up.

But last week Ramzan experienced pains.

Her husband, brother and sister-in-law took turns helping to lead and carry her through four kilometers of muddy water littered with decaying animal carcasses.

She then boarded a boat and took six buses before finally reaching the hospital.

By the time the doctors arrived, Ramzan’s baby had died.

Zahida Khan who runs the 14-person Pakistan Human Development Foundation, an organization that's helping pregnant women and babies left homeless by the floods says "Especially females are in a very miserable situation because they need food, they need security, they need medicines because they are pregnant and you know they need very good food in this situation and milk and iron and calcium."

Even before the floods, about 80 percent of Pakistani women delivered their babies at home, often on the dirt floors.

Death rates in childbirth are high, at 276 per 100,000 compared to 11 per 100,000 in the United States.

One in 20 Pakistani babies don’t live through their first month, and doctors fear that number will now soar.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs