Modern life-changing healthcare at the doorstep of refugee hosting communities in Balochistan
QUETTA (10 December, 2015): A wave of happiness and relief washed over Samina when she walked out of hospital without any support for the first time in two years. Born to a Pakistani family, the 14-year-old, suffered from typhoid fever that left her physically disabled because her family could not afford to pay for her medical treatment.
Samina’s dream of walking back on her feet came true when she visited the Orthopaedic, Prosthetic and Physiotherapy Centre (OPPC) in Quetta city, which has been recently upgraded with modern technology. Funded by the European Union under the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative, the UN Refugee Agency through Socio Pak has equipped the existing Orthopaedic, Prosthetic and Physiotherapy Centre with latest equipment which will provide free of cost quality prosthesis to persons with disabilities.
Wrapped in a traditional shawl, Samina said, she wanted to spend a normal life like her other siblings. “Whenever I tried to walk I fell down due to weakness. I came here with a hope that one day I will get back to normal life. I want to walk normally and complete my studies,” she added.
At the OPPC, prosthesis are now made with polypropylene plastic which are lighter in weight and more sustainable. Earlier, prosthesis at the OPPC were made of iron, wood and leather which were not only heavy, painful for patients to carry but short-lived. The project will benefit approximately 12,000 people with disabilities, including Afghan refugees and host community in Balochistan.
Samina’s mother Jan Bakht was elevated with joy when she saw her daughter walking through the hospital corridor without any support after getting her Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis (KAFO). “I am relieved,” said Jan Bakht, looking into the eyes of her daughter.
“In a society where men hold sway over women and where women totally rely on men, natural disability always adds to miseries,” she said adding, “Awareness among people should be created to support people with disability.”
Thanks to the upgraded facilities at the OPPC, Samina received her prosthesis free of cost which would otherwise cost her family Rs. 70, 000 at a private hospital.
Upgrading of the existing health facilities is part of a join One-UN, Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme. Ten UN agencies, including UNHCR, and other partners are working with the government line department to implement RAHA projects that improve access to basic services for Pakistani communities and Afghan refugees they are hosting. In Balochistan province, the primary focus of these projects is on education, health, water and sanitation, livelihood and social protection for more than 3 million people.
Dinesh Shrestha, head of UNHCR Sub-Office in Quetta said UNHCR acknowledges and appreciates the enduring support which the government and people of Pakistan have extended to Afghan refugees for over 35 years. Shrestha added, that, “Pakistan has generously hosted the world’s largest refugee population for so many years, and it is important to mobilize more support from the international community to sustain this great effort and to fund RAHA projects such as these.”
The RAHA initiative engenders goodwill between the local Pakistani communities and Afghan refugees. The RAHA programme is also a major component of the regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) endorsed by governments of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan and UNHCR in May 2012. The SSAR provides a predictable roadmap for solutions and better management of Afghan refugees not only back in their country of origin but also in the countries of refuge.
Since its commencement in 2009, more than 10 million people including Afghan refugees and Pakistani citizens have benefited from some 3,500 RAHA projects implemented across the country.
As the world marks the International Human Rights Day, walking back happily on her feet came like a present of Day for Samina.
Samina is one of the many fortunate people whose life has changed through RAHA. “When I was coming to this centre, I needed support but now I could at least go by my own,” she said with glee.
Javaria Tareen in Quetta