Facing a range of threats to their health though, many mothers and children in Pakistan's quake- hit areas have better access to health care than before last October's earthquake, a UNFPA statement said Friday.
On Oct. 8, 2005, a disastrous earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale hit northern Pakistan, leaving about 73,000 people dead and 3.5 million others homeless in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and Pakistani North West Frontier Province.
Exposure, crowding, weak diets and bad sanitation constitute threats to quake survivors in those quake-hit areas, where an estimated number of 5,000 women give birth each month and maternal mortality is severe, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said in the statement.
But one year on, mobile services and temporary health facilities set up by aid agencies and Pakistani government are now reaching people throughout the affected districts, including areas that were poorly served prior to the earthquake, UNFPA said.
"The hardships suffered by the earthquake survivors have increased the risks women face. But lifesaving services are now widely available in the affected areas and, thankfully, women are using them more than ever before," said Dr. France Donnay, the UNFPA representative in Pakistan, quoted by the statement.
Over 5,000 women have already given birth in pre-fabricated mother and child health facilities established by UNFPA, which is putting up 34 such facilities in Muzaffarabad and Mansehra, two of the worst-hit areas, ranging from sophisticated maternity centers to basic health units, according to the statement.
The facilities sponsored by UNFPA have provided help in primary care, prenatal checkups, and skilled deliveries round the clock, said the statement.
The UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity, it added.