Oklahoma medical team heads to Pakistan
A four-member medical team organized by the Oklahoma Disaster Relief Medical Reserve Corps is heading to Pakistan to provide medical care for flood victims.
The team of one physician, a physician’s assistant and two registered nurses was scheduled to depart for Islamabad around Sept. 10. The team will spend two weeks in the flood-ravaged country working with national partners under the auspices of Baptist Global Response (BGR).
Meanwhile, the scope of human suffering in Pakistan is staggering—and only expected to worsen, Southern Baptist relief workers reported Aug. 23 from that flood-ravaged country.
More than 17 million people have been driven from their homes, and the Southern Baptist response may require $1 million in hunger and relief funds. However, total donations so far have barely surpassed $31,000.
It could be several more days before the Indus River returns to normal levels because high tides in the Arabian Sea are slowing drainage of flood water, Pakistan’s chief meteorologist told reporters Aug. 24. Millions of people have lost homes, possessions, crops and livestock, and the United Nations has estimated up to 3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases.
With monsoon season far from over and a second flood crest moving down the Indus River, the disaster in Pakistan—and the human suffering—will continue to grow, said Francis Horton, who with his wife, Angie, directs BGR work in South Asia.
“The mass of humanity this flood has moved is astounding,” Horton wrote in a report on the BGR Web site. “The breadth of this disaster is staggering—and it continues. The second crest of the river is supposed to arrive in lower Sindh this week, which will cause even more flooding.”
Pakistan’s army and humanitarian organizations have set up tent camps to receive internally displaced people, but many families are simply living on the roadside, under trees on a flat piece of ground that looks like it will remain dry, Horton said. He has conducted disaster relief workshops with Pakistani believers and BGR partners in the country are discussing the possibility of going with villagers when they return to their homes to help with longer-term rehabilitation efforts.
“The scope of this response could put a strain on the hunger and relief funds, to the point that we may not be able to adequately respond to a hurricane in the Americas or another major crisis like an earthquake in East Asia,” said Jim Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response.
“We are asking Southern Baptists to join us in urgent prayer for the people of Pakistan and neighboring countries who are suffering so badly because of this flood,” Brown added. “This situation creates an opportunity for people to experience firsthand the love of God, who might never even meet a Christian otherwise. We’re also asking people to pray that the Lord would move on people’s hearts to give generously, so others can understand how to have the full and meaningful life God created them to enjoy.”
Sam Porter, disaster relief director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said, “We need a large pool of Oklahoma doctors and nurses on file here in our office to be ready to respond immediately in emergencies such as these.
“I know there are hundreds of medical personnel in our congregations. We only have 127 medical personnel on our MRC team right now, and we need many more who can travel or respond on short notice.”
Those interested in joining the Baptist MRC may do so by attending the next training Oct. 2 during the State Disaster Relief Training Session from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Del City, First Southern.
Those with questions about the MRC may contact coordinator Orby Butcher at 405/273-7611 or 740-3380, e-mail, [email protected].