Saudi Arabia Funds Five New Health Centres in Earthquake Affected Areas
The Saudi Public Assistance for Pakistan Earthquake Victims (SPAPEV) has contributed 1.8 million US dollars to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Pakistan to fund the construction of five new Basic Health Units in districts affected by the earthquake of October 2005.
"About 75 per cent of health facilities were destroyed or significantly damaged in this remote and inaccessible region. Even before the earthquake, the health system was very weak," says Martin Mogwanja, the UNICEF Country Representative for Pakistan. "Thanks to the generosity of the people and government of Saudi Arabia, and the tireless efforts of the interior minister, HRH Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz, thousands of children and their families will be able to benefit from high quality health and nutrition services."
Two Basic Health Units sponsored by SPAPEV will soon be completed in Abbottabad and Muzaffarabad, and construction is expected to begin on the remaining three health centres shortly. Once completed and fully equipped, each facility will provide primary care facilities to about 60,000 people, including children and women.
UNICEF Gulf Area Office represented by Dr. Ayman A. Abu Laban expresses its sincere thanks and gratitude to the government of Saudi Arabia, being the Kingdom of Humanity under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and to HRH Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Minister of Interior and Head of the Saudi Public Campaign for the Assistance of Pakistan Earthquake Victims.
“This donation is one of a continuous chain of support, including Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon and now Pakistan; and the fruits of a growing partnership since the signing of a memorandum of understanding in July 2007 between UNICEF and the Saudi Committee for Relief. We are grateful for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their strong commitment to provide humanitarian relief to children, women and families who were deeply distressed by the disaster which resulted in their living in very difficult circumstances”, Added Dr. Abu Laban.
The October 2005 earthquake killed an estimated 73,000 people and devastated the infrastructure of affected districts in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Pakistan Administered Kashmir. About 3.3 million people were left homeless, 42,000 children were orphaned, and 23,000 children were disabled. UNICEF in collaboration with the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and its partners have provided health and nutrition services to an estimated 2.3 million people in six districts – about two-thirds of the affected population – by establishing high quality health centres, lifesaving interventions such as vaccinating more than a million children against measles, and developing a network of Community Health Workers to bring trained care to the homes of over a million people in this mountainous region.
As part of a comprehensive reconstruction and rehabilitation programme in earthquake-affected districts, UNICEF has supported therapeutic nutrition services to over 25,000 malnourished children and mothers, and provided safe drinking water and sanitation facilities to nearly a million people. Efforts to promote and facilitate education served about 464,000 children, of whom over 36,000 are now attending primary school for the first time. UNICEF efforts have contributed to the birth registration of 85,000 children under the age of five in earthquake affected areas alone.
"With support from SPAPEV and our partners and in close collaboration with ERRA, we at UNICEF take this as an opportunity to build back better," says Martin Mogwanja. "By developing basic infrastructure, we hope to ensure that Pakistanis whose childhoods were affected by the earthquake have a strong foundation on which to build lives of health, well-being and fulfilment."