New York: The United Nations has expressed deep concern over the destruction of health infrastructure in the Swat valley and adjoining areas where Pakistani Army took strong actions against the Taliban terrorists, which had rendered lakhs of people homeless.
As these refugees have started returning home, absence of the critical health infrastructure in area would have an adverse impact in providing health services to the people of the region, said a top official from World Health Organisation.
"The good news is more than 1.5 million people have gone back to their area of origin. The bad news in a sense is that many of the health facilities and resources have been depleted, looted and destroyed in these areas," Eric Laroche, WHO Assistant Director-General, said.
"We are still very much concerned about the possibility of being able to supply [returnees] with the necessary support in health," Laroche said. He expressed relief that there have been no outbreaks of epidemics, attributing this to the early warning system in place on the ground.
"The problem now is that these people are going back home and we need to reinstitute these types of surveillance systems and early warning systems in these areas of return," Laroche said, adding that this will be a "major challenge”.
The WHO, he said, needs USD 35 million to respond to the health crisis and recovery in northwest Pakistan. Almost 90 percent of the 1.1 million people in the Swat district – which has an overall population of 1.7 million – who were driven out by fighting have since returned to their homes, according to Pakistan.
The UN`s Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan Martin Mogwanja recently led a UN inter-agency mission to assess the situation in Pakistan`s Swat District. The mission met district authorities and representatives of national and international non-governmental organisations. It decided that early recovery had to start as soon as possible, the UN spokesperson Michele Montas said.
The mission found that public sector infrastructure and facilities, such as telecommunications, electricity, water supply systems, schools and health facilities are functional but dilapidated.