Boat clinic to offer free healthcare to Pakistan’s remote areas

Islamabad: Pakistan’s first boat clinic will soon be launched by an organisation running charity hospitals to offer life-saving health services free of charge to communities living in hard-to-reach villages.

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Ferrying hope on the River Indus

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The initiative by Indus Health Network (IHN) described as “ferrying hope on the River Indus” will serve the vulnerable population in the Southern Punjab area, which is prone to disasters such as flooding and has acute shortage of medical services. The mobile clinic will begin its operation in October in Rahim Yar Khan’s Bhong district — home to more than 105,000 people (47 percent male and 53 percent female) with minimum access to communication and healthcare. During the flood season, the area is completely inundated in which case the only way to get healthcare is by boat.

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Free of charge services

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The boat clinic will provide quality screening and primary care services free of cost while those in need of secondary and tertiary level care will be referred to the IHN partner and referral sites. “At each docking point, the patients will be registered, screened, and have their vitals assessed before a doctor’s visit,” the official statement said.

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The boat clinic will be equipped with all the health necessities, including a lab collection unit and pharmacy. The project will integrate public health services identified by the community and provide access to immunisation, paediatric, nutrition, breastfeeding, deworming, Hepatitis C, family planning and mental health services.

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Free hospital for the underprivileged

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The Indus Hospital, solely run on donations, was established in 2007 by four college friends after witnessing the suffering of the poverty stricken people in public hospitals. Dr Abdul Bari Khan, the CEO of Indus Hospital and co-founder, with his three friends and the help of philanthropists initiated the 150-bed hospital in Karachi’s impoverished Korangi neighbourhood to provide quality and free of cost health facilities. The hospital has now evolved into Indus Health Network with 12 hospitals in Sindh and Punjab, four physical rehabilitation centres, four regional blood centres, Pakistan’s one of the largest paediatric oncology unit, primary care centres and public health initiatives in 52 districts.

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