Almost 650,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth.

ISLAMABAD    -    Of the 6.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance fol­lowing the monsoon rains, floods, and landslides in Paki­stan, more than 1.6 million are women of childbearing age.

The government estimates that around 33 million people across the country are affected including an estimated 8.2 mil­lion women of reproductive age, said a press release on Tuesday.

The United Nations Popula­tion Fund (UNFPA) estimates that almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe preg­nancy and childbirth. Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, new­born care, and support.

In addition, many women and girls are at an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as almost 1 million houses have been damaged.

“Pregnancies and childbirth can’t wait for emergencies or natural disasters to be over. This is when a woman and baby are vulnerable and need the most care. 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,” said UNFPA Pakistan Representa­tive Dr Bakhtior Kadirov. He said the humanitarian situation was being compounded by se­vere impacts on infrastructure. More than 1,000 health facili­ties were either partially or ful­ly damaged in Sindh province, whereas, 198 health facilities were damaged in affected dis­tricts in Balochistan, he added. He said the damage to roads and bridges had also compro­mised girls’ and women’s ac­cess to health facilities.

“We will continue supporting health facilities with the equip­ment and human resources to be fully operational despite the challenging humanitarian con­ditions,” said Dr Kadirov. The UNFPA is scaling up its emer­gency response to provide life-saving reproductive health services and commodities, in­cluding dignity kits, for women and girls.