A flood-affected man sits along with his children alongside flood waters after heavy monsoon rains in Jaffarabad, Balochistan, on Wednesday. AFP
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a sexual and reproductive health agency, says at least 650,000 pregnant women, of whom 73,000 are expected to deliver next month in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan are in dire need of maternal health service.
It also warned that many women and girls were at an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as almost one million houses were damaged in the floods that spelled suffering for millions across Pakistan.
â€˜Pregnancies canâ€™t wait for emergencies to be overâ€™
"Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support,â€ the UNFPA said, adding that pregnancies and childbirth cannot wait for emergencies or natural disasters to be over as this is when a woman and baby are vulnerable and need the most care.
Members of a non-governmental organisation pack sanitary pads for women displaced by massive flooding in Lahore. AFP
"The UNFPA is on the ground, working with partners, to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers continue receiving life-saving services even under the most challenging conditions,â€ acting UNFPA Pakistan Representative Dr Bakhtior Kadirov said.
The UNFPA said that over 1,000 health facilities were either partially or fully damaged in Sindh, whereas 198 health facilities were damaged in the affected districts in Balochistan. The damage to roads and bridges also compromised girlsâ€™ and womenâ€™s access to health facilities, it added.
Women receive medical assistance while taking refuge in a relief camp in Charsadda. Reuters
"We will continue supporting health facilities with the equipment and human resources to be fully operational despite the challenging humanitarian conditions,â€ said Dr Kadirov.
In a bid to ramp up its emergency response, the UNFPA Pakistan procured 8,311 dignity kits, 7,411 newborn baby kits, and 6,412 clean delivery kits for immediate delivery to Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Punjab.
The UN agency said it was also prioritising gender-based violence prevention and response services, including medical and psychosocial support to the survivors of GBV.