Media urged to highlight relief efforts
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Wednesday warned the media against what he called ‘misery marketing’, saying that creating an impression that the government was doing nothing for the flood-hit would have negative repercussions.
“The media have a right to criticise the government which seeks guidance from it, but depicting problems at all the relief camps would serve no purpose,” he said at a press briefing here.
Many saw the minister’s statement as a reaction to the disclosure of fake relief camps which are established prior to high-profile visits and wound up immediately after the visits are over.
Two such camps identified in Mianwali and D.I. Khan in recent days came to limelight and footages were available to show the ‘relief camps’ vanishing in the hurried manner that these were set up in.
The minister disclosed that over half a million pregnant women were among those affected by the devastating floods across the country, living in dangerously unhygienic conditions.
He said there was threat to their lives but claimed the government was alive to the situation and taking steps to save them with focused efforts on keeping them close to makeshift hospitals.
The disclosure came amid reports that stagnant water and remains of dead animals were posing threats to millions who survived the worst flooding in country’s history.
The United Nations had recently warned that over 3.5 million children were faced with the threat of cholera and malaria because of unhygienic environment in the relief camps.
What is aggravating the threat is inaccessibility to several hundred thousands people affected by gushing waters from the peaks of Himalayas in the north to the costs of Arabian Sea in the south.
Mr Kaira however said the government had mobilised doctors and paramedics from all over the country to help those marooned in the far flung areas. “Fighting diseases is a very tough job, but all this is within our sight,” he remarked.
He said the government had already initiated a mass vaccination campaign in affected areas to save children from diseases like cholera, malaria and diarrhoea.
He pointed out that medicines had already been sent to flood-hit areas for more than three million people while procurement for another four million was underway.