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World agencies in aid efforts after Pakistan earthquake.

An earthquake registering 7.6 on the Richter scale struck south Asia on October 8 causing widespread devastation. The epicentre was close to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

International aid agencies have been assisting the Pakistan government in attempting to get crucial supplies to the injured and to homeless families. UNICEF's Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said that the priority in the coming days will be to provide children with the means to survive. 'Needed assistance includes medical care, clean water, nutritional food for infants, clothing, and shelter--the things that matter most in the critical few weeks after a disaster like this when children and their families have lost everything.' Almost one in every five people in the affected zone is a child under the age of five.

ICM has been in contact with Imtiaz Taj Kamal of the Midwives Association of Pakistan, who is also the Secretary General of the former National Committee for Maternal Health. Imtiaz reports, 'We in Karachi are a couple of hours away by air from the disaster sites. We are collecting blankets, sweaters and clothes, which the national airline is airlifting from various towns. We are also trying to give support on the telephone to those we know have suffered a loss of a loved one or of property. Sitting in Karachi one cannot physically [provide] direct assistance to families. I wish I were there with them.'

In September 2005, an announcement was received from Pakistan advising that the former National Committee for Maternal Health has been accorded the status of a commission by the government, and has the additional responsibility of the welfare of neonates. Therefore the new name is the National Commission for Maternal and Neonatal Health (NCMNH). The news was welcomed by representatives from global agencies, including Ann Tinker of Saving Newborn Lives, who particularly looked forward to working with the NCMNH.

Dr Sadiqua N Jafarey, President of the NCMNH, said that the change in status will also require modification of the structure and mission of the organisation.
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Title Annotation:Worldwide news
Publication:International Midwifery
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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