ISLAMABAD: The pregnant women and new mothers displaced by fighting in North West Frontier Province were facing a potential health crisis, said medical teams of Islamic Relief.
They said that lack of appropriate healthcare, poor diet and stress of conflict and displacement were putting the lives of pregnant women and their babies at risk.
“Many of the pregnant women here are anaemic and malnourished, which is very dangerous,” Dr Jawad Ali, member of a medical team of Islamic Relief, told this correspondent by telephone from Char Gulli in Mardan district.
He added that an anaemic woman was more likely to go into shock during labour. He said that under-weight children could be born due to malnutrition and women would have problems in breastfeeding.
“The mental health of a woman is also very important during pregnancy. She should not suffer anxiety or stress as this can cause premature births. I am worried that the current situation could have adverse affects on pregnant women and their babies,” he said.
There are 69,000 pregnant women in need of healthcare amongst more than 2.5 million who have been displaced, most of whom are living with host families. This figure is likely to increase as people continue to flee the conflict-hit Buner and Swat.
According to the local culture, women are reluctant to be seen by a male doctor for their gynaecological problems. There are also concerns that majority of these women will not be able to afford the cost of transportation to a clinic once they are in labour and may be forced to give birth at home in unhygienic conditions and without any medical help.
Razaul Haq, Islamic Relief Programme Coordinator in Mardan said that even before this crisis, the local health clinic in Char Gulli had very limited resources. He said that there was no female doctor and no specialist maternal health facilities.