Part Of U.S. Aid Package For Pakistan Will Be Redirected To Fund Flood Rebuilding, USAID Administrator Says

Part of the previously planned $7.5 billion U.S. aid package for Pakistan will be redirected to flood rebuilding projects, said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, the Associated Press reports. Shah also “warned that other nations would only contribute money if Islamabad could ensure it would be well spent.”

“That is absolutely what is required in order to meet the needs of the Pakistani people,” Shah said. “He noted that much of the spending was already earmarked for the energy, agricultural and water sectors, all three of which were affected by the floods. ‘If you think of just those three areas, going forward I suspect they would be more important,’ he said. ‘I think we will end up moving even more aggressively in that direction.'”

Meanwhile, the U.S. will continue to encourage other nations to donate to reconstruction efforts, Shah said. “We are going to work at it, but these are tough economic times around the world and it will require a demonstration of real transparency and accountability and that resources spent in Pakistan get results,” Shah said (Brummitt, 8/25).

GlobalPost looks at the role the U.S. military is playing in flood relief, noting the recent rescue of one man by the U.S. military and how it changed his perception of the U.S. “More than 250 U.S. marines and naval personnel, using 15 military helicopters and seven civilian planes, are engaged in rescue and relief operations in different parts of flood-stricken Pakistan. It is a humanitarian mission the United States hopes can help improve its standing in a country deeply suspicious of any American military activity,” GlobalPost writes.

Moazzam Khan, who was airlifted by a U.S. military aircraft, said, “I could not believe it until I saw a huge chopper parked in a sprawling ground, and several people, including myself, were asked to line up to get on board.” According to the article, “Khan, along with everyone else, was in disbelief. For them, U.S. helicopters had always indicated imminent bombings, not an imminent rescue.” The piece also considers whether the improved image of the U.S. will last (Latif, 8/25).

On the health front, BBC reports on a recent high-level meeting aimed at thwarting an infectious disease crisis. Doctors, Pakistani health ministry officials, U.N. representatives and NGO leaders participated in the meeting.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, “As human misery continues to mount, we are seriously concerned with [the] spread of epidemic diseases.” He continued, “There is likelihood of water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery, especially in children who are already weak and vulnerable.”

Jahanzeb Orakza, Pakistan’s national health co-ordinator, said the current health situation in the flood zone was under control, but problems could develop over the next few weeks. “Health problems usually arise in flood-affected areas after four to six weeks, and we need to be alert and prepared to tackle the situation,” Orakza said (8/24).

BMJ News examines health workers’ concerns about pregnant women and newborn babies who have been affected by the flood. In the next six months, almost 52,000 women are expected to give birth in Pakistan, according to estimates from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). They also estimate that 53,000 newborns will need health care, and that 9,000 more women in the immediate future, will require surgical intervention for pregnancy-related complications.

“Millions of Pakistanis are suffering from this disaster, and they need international solidarity,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA’s executive director. “Women have special needs because they continue to give birth regardless of the dangers surrounding them and require timely medical care to ensure safe delivery.”

The article also looks at some of the broader health concerns and includes quotes from WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood (Siva, 8/24).

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