Medical Care For Pakistan’s Most Desperate
In Pakistan, health care is not part of everyday existence. Tens of thousands are inflicted with curable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and polio. HIV-AIDS is a lesser but growing problem.
In particular, the statistics for tuberculosis (TB) are staggering: some 250,000 TB cases are registered every year in Pakistan, killing up to 60,000 people each year. TB, a disease of the lungs, is easily transmitted, so it spreads quickly. TB medication is expensive and difficult to obtain in Pakistan, and no new TB medicines are available to battle a disease that has often become resistant to drugs because traditional therapies haven’t been applied correctly.
Against this tragic backdrop, Columbans seek to minister to Christians and others in this predominantly Islamic nation. Much of the ministry of Columbans and other Christian groups involves providing health care to people because the government does not.
Columban Father David Kenneally reports that just 4 percent of Pakistan’s annual budget goes to health care while 30 percent is spent repaying foreign debt and 35 percent goes to national defense. Much of this money earmarked for health care is misappropriated, and many health professionals simply do not report to their jobs. Families are forced to visit private clinics, which they cannot afford. They trade food staples such as goats or chickens for medical treatment for a loved one, leaving them without food.
“We help in the most-extreme pathetic situations when nobody else is interested in caring for people,” Fr. Kenneally writes. “There is no Red Cross or other aid agencies interested in the people we work with.”
Columbans working in Pakistan want desperately to save the lives of these poor people. They have three ongoing health-care projects that need your generous help in order to continue operations.
Health Outreach Program In Matli
Columban Fathers Joe Joyce and Tomás King serve a desert parish in the Sindh province village of Matli comprised of two ethnic groups: the Parkari Kholi and the Punjabi. The parish’s 130 villages of mud huts are built on land owned by landlords, and the villagers work as bonded laborers—they are the landlord’s indentured servants.
“It’s fair to say that the people we meet and work with each day live a life of toil and abject poverty,” Frs. Joyce and King write. “They work long hours in a hot climate and survive on a very poor diet. They suffer from many diseases and sicknesses.”
These Columbans rely upon a Catholic doctor in the parish who, on his one day off each week, travels voluntarily throughout remote parish villages with a health team to treat people—mostly women and children—with minor illnesses. These villagers are usually too poor to afford the medicine or the bus fare to a clinic or hospital.
The patients are examined and given medicine. The seriously ill are referred to a private hospital in Matli. In addition, sick parishioners come to the parish office looking for help for themselves or a family member.
“If a patient can afford even a little of the treatment, we take that as their contribution,” the Columbans write. “We see it as important that they, too, take responsibility, and we don’t want to encourage total dependency.”
Mother & Child Care Program In Hyderabad
Christians, Hindus and Muslims work harmoniously in the administrative and medical staffs of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the city of Hyderabad. The hospital runs the Mother & Child Care outreach program in the poor areas of the city to address the needs of pregnant women, mothers and infants up to 2 years old.
The hospital now lacks the resources to cover the expenses involved in this essential outreach to women and infants in need.
Columban Father Robert McCulloch [right Columban?] is the new chairman of the nonprofit hospital’s administrative council and is working to ensure these outreach programs don’t fade away.
“The hospital is continually caught in the bind of trying to offer quality medical care to the poor at the lowest possible expense and, at the same time, trying to address needs through outreach programs,” Fr. McCulloch writes. “The mission of the hospital precludes it from generating large amounts of income. Without assistance, the outreach program will have to be stopped.”
Mother & Child Health Care Ministry In Badin
In the parish of Badin, women and children are at high-risk for disease and illness. The high cost of health care and quality doctors compounds the problem.
The Mother & Child Health Care Ministry helps these women and children by matching them with medical professionals who want to work with Pakistan’s poor. The patients are helped financially by the Columbans when they cannot afford treatment by providing medicine or paying doctors’ fees. When possible, the Columbans buy medicine at wholesale rates to save money.
“We have found that timely intervention can prevent illness from developing into more serious complications and becoming more costly,” Columbans Fathers Anthony Cavanaugh and David Kenneally write. “The services we provide are basic and commonplace in other countries with an adequate government health system.”
Please help Columbans’ health-care programs for the poorest of Pakistan’s citizens. Your tax-deductible donation, now matter how big or small, will pay for these projects and others like them.
Here is how your donations will help three Columban health-care programs in Pakistan.
$5 pays for …
- One month of iron supplements for an anemic expectant mother
- initial blood tests for a pregnant woman
- a health education chart
- gasoline for a three-village visit by a health team
$10 pays for …
- a week’s supply of nutrient-enriched supplements a newborn
- a blood transfusion set
- oxygen for a newborn
- X-rays and blood tests for diagnosing post-birth complications
$100 pays for …
- the safe birthing of a child
- post-services for a woman after giving birth
- two-months salary for a health visitor
- basic medicine kit for village health visits
- gasoline for a week’s village visitation in the desert
- a rabies treatment for a person bitten by a dog
- day treatment for a seriously ill child in intensive care