The failings of the public health sector, common knowledge among citizens, were brought to the fore during the floods of 2010. The floods had left 20% of the country under water and affected 20 million people. Now a vast majority of them were left homeless, without access to adequate clean water, sanitation, food, and healthcare. The implications on their health, livelihoods and well-being were devastating. 1,514 people were officially reported dead as of early November 2010 and 2,605 people were confirmed injured. Water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonic-type illnesses, and skin diseases were rampant. Stagnant pools of water led to a rise in vector borne diseases, causing the worst outbreak of dengue in Pakistan. The health needs of the flood-stricken communities emerged at the same time as the floods brought a drop in the state’s capacity to deliver health services.
In August 2010, chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta traveled to Pakistan to report on the devastation wreaked by the flood, visiting almost all the affected areas. Reporting from Civil Hospital in Karachi, Dr. Gupta witnessed the pressure on the hospital’s inadequate resources.
Patients lay on the floor to receive treatment from doctors since there were not enough beds, and there was an acute shortage of medicine.
When Dr. Gupta’s news report aired on television, it motivated a group of Pakistani businessmen to solve this crisis by forming a collaboration with the government.
In November 2010, renovations got underway at the Civil Hospital’s Emergency Room of Paediatrics. A 1,900-bed tertiary care public hospital, Civil Hospital is one of the largest teaching hospital of Pakistan, imparting both undergraduate and postgraduate training. This is where ChildLife was born, with a dream to save every child’s life through innovative solutions. The 22-bed facility, which had been renovated in a world class manner, includes a well-equipped pharmacy, and a triage room. Since initiating operations in 2011, ChildLife has treated 5 million patients altogether.