Pakistan - IOM teams provide psychosocial, medical support to earthquake survivors

News and Press Release
Originally published
IOM has deployed two medical teams to provide basic medical and psychosocial support to earthquake survivors in affected areas of Balochistan.

An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale struck three districts of the province on 29 October 2008, killing at least 300 people and leaving over 70,000 homeless.

As part of an inter-agency medical support initiative and in cooperation with the provincial Health Department, IOM medical teams are conducting daily outreach clinics in Kach and Kawas Union Councils of Ziarat District, 70km north-east of Quetta, the Balochi capital.

The two teams, which include female psychologists and social workers, have so far assessed the physical, social and psychological needs of affected people in several remote villages including Wam, Kili Ahmed Khan, Kili Sarang Zai and Warghargai.

Female staff were deliberately selected for the teams as male aid workers are often refused access to women and children, often the most vulnerable earthquake survivors, in remote areas of Pakistan.

"We normally have to travel at least 6 or 7 hours every day to reach these remote communities, most of which don't have any health facilities," says Dr Muddasser Ban Abad, manager of IOM medical teams based in Quetta.

The teams are also providing healthcare services to survivors for minor physical ailments, including respiratory infections, as temperatures fall with the onset of winter.

They are also conducting basic psychosocial support sessions for children and women, focusing on qualitative assessment of their psychosocial needs, providing guidance and referrals.

"The sessions involve active listening so that traumatized people can express themselves and vent their concerns. There are play and drawing activities for children and motivational activities for vulnerable groups, empowering them to focus on the urgent task of temporary shelter building," says Dr Bernard Kofi Opare, head of IOM's Medical Unit in Islamabad.

IOM is also providing logistical support to the Department of Psychiatry of Bolan Medical College to conducting psychiatry sessions for earthquake-affected people.

For further information, please contact Saleem Rehmat at IOM Islamabad. Tel: +92 300 856 03 41. Email: