More than half of Karachi’s population lives in low-resource and densely-packed neighbourhoods where there are few or no qualified doctors conveniently located. Pollution is high and diseases are rampant. When children from these areas fall sick, many parents try home remedies and visit unqualified doctors before finally rushing their child to the emergency room. They do this because they can often not afford the cost of transportation, and are afraid that the services at a reputable hospital might be a further financial burden. But when the children are in a critical condition, parents have no choice but to rush them into an ER.
Many ER visits could be avoided if there were quality primary care clinics in close proximity to all residential neighborhoods, curbing illnesses in their rudimentary phase. However, primary clinics with qualified doctors rarely exist in low-resource areas and local residents are forced to visit unlicensed doctors who frequently misdiagnose the case. Additionally, World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 50% of the medicines available in these regions are fake or expired. This further complicates the patient’s health, and increasing their need for emergency care.
Diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition are the most common illnesses festering amongst the children residing in these low-resource areas. They are easy to prevent and treat, but most people lack the knowledge and the resources to keep such diseases at bay. They do not understand the importance of hygiene or a healthy diet, and as a result, often suffer from ailments that people living in other neighborhoods can without difficulty prevent and treat themselves. This increases their demand for primary healthcare, which is not readily available. As a result, the children require emergency care, and many a times, expire before they can receive such help.
ChildLife Foundation aims to tackle the health problems that are prevalent in the slum neighborhoods of Karachi through a complete healthcare system: emergency care, primary care, and preventive care. ChildLife understands that by providing comprehensive preventive care – including inoculations – they will be able to prevent and stamp out most illnesses at the core. This will reduce the demand for primary health clinics and emergency rooms. But to keep a community healthy, there will always be a need for these facilities, so ChildLife will continue to expand its network of clinics and emergency rooms catering to low-income families seeking quality and affordable healthcare.