The Pakistan Earthquake
On the 8th of October 2005, an earthquake struck measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale lasting 73 seconds, taking 86,000 lives and leaving 120,000 injured, struck the northern areas of Pakistan and India. The earthquake decimated the local infrastructure with over 50% of the healthcare facilities in the area being destroyed and a further 25% damaged. More than 3.5 million people were left homeless. The scale of the disaster understandably overwhelmed local healthcare systems. Several international agencies set up field hospitals in the affected areas to deal with the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
Assembled from Orthopaedic and Plastic surgeons based in Manchester, MiST formed its' first team to fly out and assist the aid effort. In order to accomplish our aims we mobilised resources and travelled to Pakistan with self-reliant teams of plastic / orthopaedic surgeons, junior medical staff, anaesthetists as well as scrub staff and operating room staff. We also took with us the specialist equipment needed by the surgeons / anaesthetists and disposables to avoid demand on already scarce local resources.
With the help of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and UK based charity, Islamic Help, a makeshift trauma ward and theatre complex was set-up within a privately owned eye hospital in Rawalpindi, Al Shifa. The complex orthopaedic, plastic and anaesthetic equipment was donated / borrowed from the respective base hospitals in UK.
Having arrived 4 weeks after the disaster struck, the majority of the cases encountered were infected, complex, open fractures that had only received initial first aid treatment and primitive stabilisation. We believe that without surgeons skilled in limb reconstruction, further patients would have required amputation.
Creating A Long Term Plan
MiST long-term plan with the Pakistani government and private funding was to set up a trauma and limb reconstruction centre in Pakistan. Our surgeons performed limb correction surgery, using ring fixators, at Ayub Medical College (AMC), Abbottabad between jan 2006 and jan 2007.
MiST taught the local medical and nursing staff these surgical techniques, and to date run the surgical centre. One of these surgeons at AMC, taught by MiST, was awarded with 'Best International Young Surgeon' in 2007 for his work and results using ring fixators.
'Pakistan Earthquake: Experiences of a Multidisciplinary Surgical Team'
Download PDF: Report published in Journal of Disaster Management.