Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Northern Ireland doctor saving lives in Pakistan

A young girl, who is a Pakistani flood survivor, is shown in the Sultan Colony, a refuge encampment
A young girl, who is a Pakistani flood survivor, is shown in the Sultan Colony, a refuge encampment
A young girl, who is a Pakistani flood survivor, is shown in the Sultan Colony, an refuge encampment, in the Province of Punjab, near the city of Multan, Pakistan. Pakistan is suffering from the worst flooding in 80 years as the army and aid organizations struggle to cope with the scope of the wide spread scale of the disaster which has killed thousands and displaced millions.
A Pakistani flood affected child sleeps at his makeshift tent in Azakhel near Nowshera, Pakistan
SANGI PATAN, PAKISTAN - AUGUST 11: Displaced flood victims exhausted and hungry rest as they wait for a place to go as the flood waters forced them to escape from their homes August 11, 2010 in Sangi Patan, Pakistan. The country's agricultural heartland has been hit hard as rice, corn and wheat fields are flooded creating a massive lake that goes on for many miles. An estimated 13.5 million Pakistanis affected by the worst floods in the country's history are bracing for more destruction as monsoon rains further bloat rivers and streams. Deadly flooding across Pakistan, has claimed the lives of more than 1,600 people and has forced hundreds of thousands from their homes, in what is the country's worst floods since 1929. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images)
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Desperate flood victims scramble during a food distribution by a local Muslim organization offering rice for the hungry survivors over two weeks after the floods started
A Pakistan army helicopter drops relief supplies at a heavily flooded area of Rajanpur, in central Pakistan
Two young girls, who are Pakistani flood survivors are shown in the Sultan Colony
Internally displaced people effected by the floods rest in the extreme heat in small tented camp
Flood victims run towards the Pakistan Army helicopter to grab aid
A Pakistani mother and her baby are camped out by the edge of the water over two weeks after the floods forced them to flee
A Pakistani mother and her daughters make some tea over a fire, living on the street after the floods forced them to flee
A Pakistani father and his daughter rest on their bed amongst the cattle, living on the street after the floods forced them to flee
Desperate flood victims scramble during a food distribution by a local Muslim organization offering rice for the hungry survivors over two weeks after the floods started
A Pakistani girl sits in a tented camp where some families have taken shelter after their homes were flooded
Floods spread for hundreds of kilometres, as seen from a Pakistan Army helicopter on an aid mission
Stranded people stand on a small strip of road waving to a helicopter before being evacuated by the Pakistan Army as flood waters continue to cause suffering two weeks after flooding began
A farm is submerged and surrounded as floods spread for hundreds of kilometres
A man waves from the roof of a building, surrounded by flood water
Villagers displaced from their homes by flooding sit on their belongings as they evacuate
Villagers displaced from their homes by flooding travel through flood waters on the back of a truck
Exhausted and hungry displaced flood victims rest as they wait for a place to go after the flood waters forced them to escape from their homes
Villagers wade through flood waters after having evacuated their homes
Pakistani flood victim Mohammed Nawaz hangs onto a moving raft as he is rescued by the Pakistan Navy
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flooding continues at a very high level
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Pakistani flood victims get evacuated by the Pakistan Navy on a boat rescue mission as flood waters continue to rise
Villagers displaced from their homes due to flooding walk through flood waters in the village of Baseera on the outskirts of Muzaffargarh in Punjab, Pakistan.
Villagers displaced from their home due to flooding lead their livestock through flood waters
Children displaced from their homes by flooding stand near bottles of water donated by roadside motorists
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets children at a camp during his visit to flood-affected areas in Muzaffargarh, central Pakistan
An aerial view of the flooding in the province of Punjab, Pakistan
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, centre, is greeted upon his arrival at Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan
A flood survivor in tears as she talks about her home being washed away by heavy flooding
Aid agencies have urged Governments to respond more quickly to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in flood-hit Pakistan
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, centre, shakes hands with officials at his arrival at Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. (AP)
Flood affected people at a camp for displaced victims in Multan, Pakistan (AP)
A Pakistani villager carries his mother out of heavy flooding in Pakistan
US troops drop food relief for flood-hit people in Kalam, Pakistan
A young Pakistani flood survivor stands outside her makeshift tent, in Charsadda, in Pakistan's northwest (AP)
Vehicles drive through a flooded road in Charsadda, in Pakistan's northwest (AP)
A Pakistani villager rests as his house is submerged by flood water in Ghazi Ghat, Pakistan (AP)
Villagers flee their homes due to heavy flooding in Muzaffargarh, central Pakistan (AP)
A woman takes shelter on higher ground due to flooding in an area of Jaffarabad, Pakistan (AP)
Pakistan will need billions of dollars to recover from the worst floods in history, say the UN
Irish aid teams are on stand-by to assist victims of floods in Pakistan (AP)
Villagers travel to a safer place after leaving the flood-hit area of Muzaffargarh in central Pakistan (AP)
A woman sits in a makeshift tent made from a plastic sheet as rain falls near Pabbi, north west Pakistan (AP)
Pakistan army troops rescue stranded villagers from the floods (AP)
A woman sits in a makeshift tent made from a plastic sheet as rain falls near Pabbi, north west Pakistan (AP)
Victims of the floods wait to be evacuated in Sanawan near Multan in central Pakistan (AP)
Pakistani army soldiers in a helicopter rescue families stranded by flood water in central Pakistan (AP)
Protesters gather in Birmingham during a visit by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari
Villagers stranded by floodwater wait to be evacuated in Sanawan near Multan in central Pakistan (AP)
Houses and narrow surrounding are are left amid flooded waters in Kot Addu, Pakistan (AP)
British charities have launched an appeal to raise money for flood-hit Pakistan
Children jostle for relief aid in Peshawar, Pakistan (AP)
Pakistan army soldiers rescue stranded villagers in Dera Ghazi Khan (AP)
Pakistan deployed additional security forces to Karachi after further violence (AP)
An Irish aid agency has launched a worldwide appeal to raise 5 million euro to help the victims of the Pakistan flood disaster. (AP)
People wait to cross a flooded road in Bannu, north-western Pakistan.(AP)
Pakistani Mir Zaman sits on a bed next to his flooded house in Camp Karoona, Pakistan
A woman carries her child through floodwater in Camp Koroona village, Pakistan
A Pakistan army helicopter evacuates stranded villagers in Nowshera
A villager uses an inflated tube to reach his flooded house on the outskirt of Peshawar, Pakistan (AP)
Villagers gather beside their collapsed house caused by monsoon rains in Pakistan (AP)
People use a boat to rescue people after heavy rain fall caused flooding in Pakistan (AP)
Pakistani villagers move to a safe place from a flood hit village near Nowshera, Pakistan
Pakistani villagers move to a safe place from a flood-hit village near Nowshera, Pakistan

A Northern Ireland doctor who has spent three weeks helping with the relief efforts in flood ravaged Pakistan has told of the utter devastation which is affecting millions.

Dr Mark Campbell (37), an anaesthetist from Dungannon, was in the country for just five days when it was hit by the worst floods in 80 years.

He was originally in the Lower Dir region to cover a staffing gap at the local Ministry of Health hospital in Timurgara as part of his first mission with medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) — also known as Doctors Without Borders — when the monsoon rains set in.

Within a few days rivers burst their banks and thousands of homes were swept away leaving millions without shelter and accommodation.

Dr Campbell, who is now on his way to Afghanistan where he will spend the next few months volunteering in some of the most dangerous regions in the war-torn country, explained the situation was so bad that at one point staff feared they would run out of basic medical supplies.

“At one point, I was on my last vial of anaesthesia,” he said.

“We were really worried we would run out of essential drugs and materials. We managed in the end, but it was close.

“The mobile clinics were going out almost every day. We also have a cholera treatment centre on stand-by, but so far we haven’t seen any cases.

“I did see some cases of typhoid, whether related to the floods or not I can’t say.

“The main impact for us was on communications; the floods knocked out everything.

“The mobiles didn’t work, and the supposedly indestructible satellite phones were about as useful as a chocolate teapot, and even when we succeeded in getting mobile phone coverage, the network quickly became swamped which meant that this was not always a reliable form of contact either.

“We had enough staff for the hospital because they stayed on-call but it was very difficult to reach people urgently with all communications down.

“We had flood-related trauma cases coming in — people who had been injured in landslides or falling walls — and we couldn’t get hold of nurses for the operating theatre. It was chaotic.”

Dr Campbell said before the floods hit, demand for treatment was very high.

He said now there would be even further demand and appealed for people to dig deep to help out.

“The hospital is basic at the best of times, even the smallest hospital I’ve worked in Ireland can’t compare to it,” he said.

“There’s no CT scanner for instance.

“There are private clinics but many people cannot afford these, and that’s why MSF is here. Every day, except Sunday, there are queues at the ER and for OT.

“In the space of 19 days, we had 26 surgical cases. The one that stands out for me was a young girl whose leg had been torn open by a brick in the flood water. Her father was so grateful to us. If MSF was not there she would never have received the same level of care.

“MSF has people on the ground so any donations that we receive for the flood relief in Pakistan will be put to use immediately, there won’t be any delays.”

>To make a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders and for more information please visit

www.msf.ie

www.facebook.com/msfireland

www.twitter.com/MSF_ireland

>Further information about the relief effort available here

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