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Millions Displaced in Pakistan After 2022 Monsoon Season

Shipments of medical aid to facilities like Murshid Hospital and Health Care Center in Karachi are supporting the country's health system.


Extreme Weather

Soldiers rescue people from the flood affected Rajanpur district, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, in Aug. 2022. Fierce monsoon rains and deadly flooding have hit Pakistan hard this year. (Photo by SHAHID SAEED MIRZA/AFP via Getty Images)

After surviving extreme heat and severe rains, many in Pakistan have been displaced from their homes and now lack daily necessities like food and clothing. Non-governmental organizations have distributed packages of food and clothing. The country’s government has also dispersed food while sending rescue teams to parts of the country that are now difficult to reach by land to save lives.

However, Pakistani health experts say the larger issues of homelessness, famine, and climate change will haunt the country for years to come.

Pakistan is more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than other countries based on its geographical location, although it emits fewer carbon emissions than most other countries. The United Nations reported that 33 million people have been affected by this year’s floods and it may take up to six months for the water to recede. Homes, schools, markets and more have all been washed away.

Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes after a record-breaking season of rainfall left nothing but debris behind. Pakistan’s monsoon season, which runs through the summer months, saw 243% above-average rainfall in August alone, according to the Pakistani government. Over 1,100 people have died, and hundreds were injured from the severe weather. Just months before, the country experienced a drought with temperatures as high as 115 degrees in April.

The weather affects not only the rainfall and rising waters across Pakistan, but crop yields for food and living conditions.

Haamid Jaffer, from the Murshid Hospital and Health Care Center in Karachi, said that he worries about the millions who have been displaced and where they will live in the future. Murshid Hospital provides affordable healthcare services to low-income communities and has received almost $12 million in financial and medical aid support from Direct Relief.

A 23-pallet emergency shipment to the Medical Directorate of Pakistan is packed in Direct Relief’s warehouse in Santa Barbara, California on September 13, 2022. The donation contained chronic care medications, trauma care supplies, hygiene kits, birth control, anti-seizure medications, PPE, and prenatal vitamins. The supplies were distributed to public health facilities providing care to the 33 million people that were impacted by the widespread flooding. (Maeve O’Connor/Direct Relief)

Many families from flooded areas migrated north, leaving behind just one family member to claim any land that submerges from the wetland, according to Jaffer. He said there aren’t always formal and legally binding documents for proof of ownership.

“They may want to protect that plot of land so that nobody else from the neighborhood nearby comes and encroaches,” he said. “The fear is always there.”

Jaffer said that homelessness is a growing problem in Pakistan, which could result in psychiatric and psychological challenges later in life. Those who have had to relocate are living in a new community, may have to find new employment, and are potentially away from family and friends.

Intense flooding can increase the risk of waterborne diseases like typhoid, malaria, and dengue. While there are vaccines to combat the illnesses, many young people in Pakistan remain unvaccinated due to cultural and religious beliefs, according to the National Library of Medicine. The severe heat can also cause dehydration, bacterial infections and skin diseases.

Jaffer said that he also worries about family planning during times of crisis; pregnant women who have had to leave their homes from the floods and likely are without consistent care throughout the duration of pregnancy, and that Murshid hospital has operated with an interest in improving maternal health for over a decade. Recent shipments contained prenatal vitamins and other medical support for the hospital treating those impacted by the floods.

Since January 2022, Direct Relief has shipped more than $35 million worth of medical aid to Pakistan, which has been distributed to health facilities across the country.

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