Balakot – Pakistan faces a daunting set of health coverage challenges. With some of the worst social and health indicators ranking in the world – 129th out of 174 nations on the Human Development Index, 82nd out of 94 countries on the Mother’s Index and 118 out of 140 countries on the Girl’s Investment Index – its problems have been compounded by the effects of the October 8, 2005 earthquake on the local healthcare system.
“In the wake of this disaster, 75% of primary health centers located in northern areas – the cornerstone of Pakistan’s rural health care system – were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. Moreover community outreach and community-based services have largely ceased to exist. The disruption to first level health care facilities, that include dispensaries, basic health units, civil hospitals and mother and child centers, has been drastic and widely felt in affected areas,” said Augustine Gill, Head of American Red Cross (ARC), at the Foundation Stone laying ceremony of the Shohal Najaf Basic Health Unit (BHU), reconstructed as part of ARC’s Pakistan Earthquake Reconstruction Project.
ARC’s basic aim is to restore normal community life in Mansehra through reliable health care services. Funded via a Citi Foundation (the philanthropic arm of Citibank N.A.) grant of PKR 114 million (US$ 1.9 million), the project, implemented by ARC in partnership with Citi Pakistan and the Pakistan Red Cross Society (PRCS) will support the rebuilding of two Basic Health Units (BHUs), one Rural Health Center (RHC), two vocational/community centers, as well as undertake their operating costs for one year. The project will assist an estimated 128,000 people per year who have been affected by the earthquake.
Zubyr Soomro, Country Officer & Managing Director Citi Pakistan, was invited to lay the Foundation Stone at the ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony, which was held at the BHU in Shohal Najaf Balakot he said, “Citi has supported development efforts in Pakistan through volunteerism, through grants, and through the transfer of expertise. A company with a worldwide presence and an ingrained sense of social responsibility, Citi has been at the forefront to help victims of the South Asian earthquake. This effort with the ARC is funded by Citi and its employees the world over and I speak for all of them when I say that we are proud and happy to be a part of this commendable effort to revive Mansehra’s health sector.”
Operating in more than one hundred countries, Citi has been in the forefront of efforts to help communities of which it is a part. Citi, the Citi Foundation, and Citi employees committed PKR 420 million (US$7 million) for relief and re-building for victims the South Asia earthquake. Citi Foundation's grants are awarded primarily in three areas: Financial Education, Educating the Next Generation, and Building Communities and Entrepreneurs.