Picture Credits: Muhammad Sajjad
While the world’s prominent leaders met at COP27 to resolve the issue of climate change and its impact, women and young girls in Pakistan are fighting for their lives.
The females who are Pakistan flood survivors are currently suffering from urinary tract infections, reproduction complications, and other diseases associated with bad hygiene and health.
Despite several weeks going by, the complications are only getting worse. Not only is the stagnant water causing water-borne disease, but it is also causing skin issues, amongst other problems as well.
Due to the lack of healthcare and inaccessibility, these victims are not receiving proper treatment timely, hence risking their lives. According to ReliefWeb, some women had to resort to using their ‘dupattas’ to manage their periods.
Tahmina, a local nurse working with women and girls from camps in Dadu, told WaterAid that most of the women she meets complain of abdominal cramps, excessive bleeding and unusual discharge.
She has seen symptoms associated with UTIs “significantly increase” and estimates that ‘70%’ of women she met are suffering from the condition. Tahmina said that the unhygienic conditions and contaminated water are contributing to the health issues women and girls are experiencing. She told WaterAid:
“Unhygienic conditions, using the same cloth for longer periods, holding urine for longer periods, using contaminated water for drinking and washing purposes and lack of handwashing are contributing a lot to this. Due to trauma and anxiety, women are in shock. *
“Moreover, miscarriages were at a peak during the initial days of the floods. I got to know one case of a stillbirth. I was told that the woman couldn’t get timely medical assistance during her labour pains and the child died before birth.”
An estimated 650,000 women who are victims of the flood are expecting, and are at serious risk of losing their own lives as well as their children.
“Living in a tent is not a life that I saw for my child and I am not sure whether my child or I will be able to survive in such a critical situation. I am aware that the stagnant water will take more than three months to be absorbed by the soil, so I just get goosebumps when I think of living here for the next four months. My family has lost everything, but we do not want to lose this baby.” Shared Rubina, who was forced to flee her home while expecting in her 6th month.
An estimated 8.2 million women living in the flood zone are thought to be of reproductive age. WaterAid also met 45-year-old Rasheeda who was the victim of an infection leading to a prolapsed uterus. She had been using the same cloth for 3-months, leading to severe abdominal pain and serious urine infection.
“When I moved in here, there was no toilet or clean water and even now we are living without it. Therefore, I am forced to use my menstrual cloth without washing them with soap or washing powder but just with dirty flood water. I used to bury my cloth in the ground but now I wash my cloth in dirty flood water so that they can be used again and again.
“I went to a free medical camp nearby and the doctor advised me to remove my uterus because it is infecting other parts of my body too. We have lost everything in the floods, and we cannot afford any such surgery. *
“Also, our workload has increased in these camps because now we must fetch water for drinking, cooking and toilet use but I am unable to do any house chores due to my health issues. I just lie all day on the bed and my daughter looks after me and other tasks as well.”
Raheema Panhwar, WaterAid Provincial Coordinator in Sindh, said:
“The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, declared at COP that ‘we’re on a highway to climate hell’. Well, women and girls in Pakistan are living that hell right now.
“I challenge world leaders to listen to the words of these women and girls in Pakistan who are on the climate change front line and do all they can to help them and the millions more like them across the globe.
Every passing day is bringing another challenge for the survivors. We hope that this difficult time passes and it gets easier for them.
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