By Erika Mathieu
Westwind Weekly News
Calgary-based physician Dr. Fozia Alvi left Alberta for her home country, Pakistan, on Sept. 9 to provide mobile medical aid to people in need.
As Pakistan’s record-setting flooding has submerged nearly one-third of the country underwater, the international Pakistani community have been particularly touched by the disaster which has killed over 1,300 people, injured over 12,000, and displaced over 600,000 people.
Alvi founded the non-profit organization, Humanity Auxilium (HA) in 2017, after witnessing the widespread need for medical aid in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh as the Rohingya refugee crisis continued to escalate. Strained and inadequate infrastructure in refugee camps became epicentres of food and water-borne illnesses, malnutrition, after malnutrition high cases of violence, and high instances of infectious diseases.
While the circumstances of her trip to Pakistan are very different from the circumstances in Bangladesh, the concentration of displaced people during natural disasters often creates similar environments for diseases to thrive.
Alvi, who was trained in the U.S. and has been practising medicine in Alberta for over a decade, said, “The stories I’ve been hearing that have emerged from the flooding about people being trapped, abandoned, and displaced is heartbreaking. The scale of this disaster is unimaginable.”
Alvi said, “I am heading to Pakistan, my home country, to provide medical relief to those who need it after devastating floods have destroyed so much.”
Alvi left for Pakistan on Sept. 9 and said she would be stationed according to the need for medical care.
“I’m not sure where I will stay as our local partners, a team of doctors will take us to different areas wherever the needs are,” said Alvi. She added, “The Role of HA is to keep running our mobile medical clinic, as well as work on long-term rehab of the affected people.”
Alvi said over, “35 million people are directly affected. Just a comparison to Canada, the total population of Canada is 38 million. This is an unprecedented and serious situation that is unfolding, it’s one of the largest humanitarian crises that we have ever seen.”
“I cannot stand idly by while those in my home country suffer through such a difficult time. I am deciding to stand with them and support them however and wherever I can.
Although Alvi will be working on the ground to help treat medical conditions, part of her goal is to also call attention to the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. She stressed that this year alone, between the flooding in Pakistan and droughts in China, “it’s not hard to see the direction we are headed. These problems will not stop. We will be seeing more of these once-in-a-lifetime disasters, again and again, year after year as climate change affects us further.”
Alvi explained although the population of Pakistan accounts for approximately three per cent of the global population, they are taking the brunt of the effects of climate change and, contribute to (just) 0.67 per cent of world emissions.
She told SSN, “My hope is to raise awareness of this crisis and to provide direct and meaningful assistance,” adding, “for your readers, it is the time to ponder about climate change (and) that it is real.”