Society’s humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of Pakistan Earthquake October 2005

On October 08, 2005, a massive earthquake devastated a part of Northern Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. More than 82,000 people were killed and more than 3.5 million people were left injured or homeless. The earthquake and its aftermath not only devastated a region as large as more than the half of Switzerland, it also shook the conscience of humanity. The members of Swiss Pakistan Society and their Swiss friends decided to mobilize efforts to help the survivors in a meaningful way. Their start was humble and soon sincere efforts produced big results. Several generous sponsors joined and with grace of Almighty, their operation in Switzerland was transformed into one of the major contributions from Pakistani communities living abroad.

Click Here for a report on Society’s Earthquake Relief efforts,
Presented to the Board on December 06, 2005.

  • Relief shipments of winterization material and medicine:
    13 Shipments were sent to Pakistan with a total weight of 161 tons and a volume of 1287 m3. These shipments were sent on two Boeing 747 Cargo chartered by NATO, and 9 x 40 feet sea containers. The relief material was distributed with the partnership and supervision of Federal Relief Commission, Swiss Development Corporation Pakistan, Indus Motors Pakistan and Agha Khan Foundation Pakistan. The shipment included:
    • 600 winterized tents
    • 270 tent kerosene heaters
    • 23’000 sleeping bags
    • 12’000 wool blankets
    • 50’000 Swiss Army winter Coats
    • Medicine for wounds and vaccinations
  • Support for National Volunteer Movement (NVM)
    SPS supported the national volunteer movement that was launched by the president of Pakistan. A winter-kit for 10’000 volunteers was sent. Half of the winter kits were given to the volunteers of the Federal Relief Commission who were providing relief at extreme cold temperature. The Swiss Army winter gloves and caps were particularly appreciated by those workers who were handling GI sheets at below freezing temperatures. The material was received and distributed under the supervision of Brig. (r) Yasub Ali Dogar.
    Click Here for the letter to the Chairman of NVM, Federal Minister M. A. Durrani
  • Support in the rehabilitation of paraplegics of the earthquake disaster
    In the aftermath of the earthquake several hundred paraplegic patients were reported. Paraplegic patients are paralyzed below abdomen due to spinal chord injuries (SCI). Pakistan’s medical services were ill prepared to treat SCI patients of such high numbers. Pakistan Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM) was the only organization in Pakistan with considerable competencies in this field. Swiss Pakistan Society decided to establish a partnership with AFIRM to help Pakistan acquiring competencies in the treatment of SCI patients with the assistance of Swiss Experts. On April 19, 2006, the Commandant of AFIRM Brigadier Pervaiz Rashid , in his letter to the Swiss Pakistan Society, made a request for help in realizing 5 key objectives. Click here for the letter. SPS had to seek a special permission from the President of Pakistan (Chief of Army Staff) and the Prime Minister for allowing such partnership between AFIRM and SPS Click here for the letter of request to the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
    Following were the outcome of this collaboration:
    • SPS installed 4 infotainment centres in Paraplegic patients’ wards in Rawalpindi. Instructional videos and books on handling and treating Paraplegic patients were acquired in Europe and sent to the AFIRM library.
    • Training the Paramedical Trainers:
      In January 2007, a team of Swiss experts from Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC) Nottwil, were sent to AFIRM Rawalpindi to train the trainers. The team included a male nurse, a female nurse, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a Physician, all specialising in treating paraplegic patients. The team stayed in Rawalpindi/Islamabad for one month and trained 10 teams of 40 Pakistani paramedical staff. On completing the training certificates by SPC/SPS were given to 40 trainers.
      A visit of second team of Swiss experts was planned. However due to lack of funds and deteriorating security situation in Pakistan it is put on hold.
      Click here for a report by Dr. Hans George Koch of SPC
    • Training of Pakistani Doctors in Switzerland:
      Two teams of 7 Pakistani doctors specialising in rehabilitation medicine received training in treatment of Paraplegic patients and post traumatic rehabilitation in Swiss Paraplegic Centre Nottwil and Rehabilitation Clinic Bellikon, Switzerland (www.paranet.ch and www.rehabellikon.ch). It should be noted that at the time of the earthquake of 2005, only 14 doctors were qualified in rehabilitation medicine in Pakistan. On the special request of SPS to the Pakistan Surgeon General, the Commandant of the AFIRM was also included in the team of Pakistani doctors who received training in Switzerland.
      Click here for a report by Dr. Hans George Koch of SPC
    • Equipment for Functional Electric Stimulation (FES)
      FES is used to treat patients with partial Spinal Chord Injuries (SCI). After Earthquake the Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM) had only two such devices which were not sufficient for treating large number of SCI patients of the earthquake. On the request of the AFIRM Swiss Pakistan Society sent 18 FES machines to them. A large supplies of useable material was also provided to them Click here for communication on NOC and distribution of FES equipment to various hospitals
  • Assisting in Spine surgeries and developing competencies
    In August 2006 Professor Max Aebi, a renowned spinal surgeon and chairperson of the MEM research centre University of Bern, travelled to Pakistan in a partnership with Swiss Pakistan Society. He evaluated the situation of the paraplegic patients of the earthquake and formulated recommendation. He also met the Prime Minister. He performed several corrective and complex spinal surgeries. Since then Mr. Aebi has been visiting Pakistan at least three times a year for one week each visit. He has performed several dozens of complex spinal surgeries free of costs in Pakistan. He has trained Col. Assad Qureshi in Modern Spinal surgeries and considers him at par with any highly accomplished Western spinal surgeons. Mr. Aebi has a long term commitment for Pakistan to help them develop competencies in the field of modern spine surgery which is at this point at the level of infancy in Pakistan.
    Click here for Prof. Aebi’s recommendations to Surgeon General

    Prof. Dr. Max Aebi with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. On the Right is Mr. Zamir Akram the Aditional Secr. PM Secretariat (Presently he is Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Mission in Geneva) on the left is Maj Gen Dr. Azhar Mahmood Kayani.

  • Solar Food Dehydrator:
    Drying fruit is an important source of livelihood for the people of the area that was hit by the earthquake . Traditionally fruit was dried on flat roofs of the dwellings. After the 2005 earthquake most of the houses in the area were re-built with slanting GI roofs which made it difficult for the people to dry fruits. To resolve this problem a Solar Food Dehydrator was designed by Saad Khan of the Swiss Pakistan Society. It was fabricated with the help of Dr. Afzal and Mrs. Yasmeen Lari of Heritage Foundation is taking keen interest in the deployement of this project. Click here for more information on this project
  • Dairy & Livestock Development for the NWFP/AJK
    A feasibility survey was conducted by the Swiss Pakistan Society’s team in the earthquake affected area. The team was lead by Mr. Jakob Moser the retired Swiss dairy expert who was credited for developing Nestlé Pakistan’s milk business. Brig. (r) Yasub Ali Dogar and Saad Khan were also part of the team. The finding of the survey and recommendations were presented in Lahore round table conference. Unfortunately funds could not be secured for the implementation of the milk development strategies suggested for the earthquake affected area. However Nestlé Pakistan took notice of those strategies and consequently Mr. Jakob Moser was rehired by the Nestlé Pakistan as Head of Milk collection and Agriculture Services
  • Household Bathroom Initiative of Heritage Foundation
    Re-construction in Earthquake affected area created new problems. E.g. constructions of toilets attached to houses and the availability of running water created wastewater disposal problems that contaminated drink water sources. After carrying out research and modifying design of Salubh double pit toilet systems, a sewerage alternative was devised that is ecological, economical and suitable to the terrain. The project is being successfully implemented in some villages of Siran valley by the Heritage Foundation.Click here for more information on this project

Recognitions:

Certificate of Commendation by President & Prime minister of Pakistan, to Saad Khan (Exec. Vice President) of Swiss Pakistan Society

Shield by the Federal Relief Commissioner

AttachmentSize
SwissPak_Relief_Report_6-12-05.pdf345.07 KB
Letter_to_NVM_Chairman_14-12-05.pdf758.34 KB
AFIRM_Letter_19-4-06.pdf239.12 KB
Letter_to_PM_4-7-06 2.pdf353.15 KB
SPC_Report_Pakistan_Project.pdf58.14 KB
FES_NOC_29-6-06.pdf451.11 KB
Aebi_to_Afzal_Ahmad.pdf71.37 KB