Since I have come to Swat, I have noticed that most NGOs run programs for a maximum of 3 – 6 months and pay huge salaries that take away workers from organizations like ours that are here on a long term basis. The programs are rarely based on the needs of the people and consist of handouts that create more problems in the long term. For instance, the World Food Program has a project here that gives rations as an incentive to children to go to schools. This has put a great burden on the badly run and understaffed public education system, and with so many students coming to classes to collect rations, each teacher now has to teach between 100 and 200 students.
I have been traveling to different villages almost every day and have found that there is a health crisis among the Swati people. Most people are ill, and the two main hospitals in Swat are overburdened, understaffed and badly run (please click on the pictures below for more detail). There is a great need for preventive healthcare programs (like the one that Swat Relief Initiative has started here in collaboration with HDF) in order to take the burden off the hospitals. Our preventive healthcare program has a three-pronged approach to prevent disease: improve maternal health, reduce infant mortality, and reduce malnutrition. We educate people in nutrition by holding health seminars that introduce the right diet and supplements to prevent malnution. We teach hygiene and environmental cleanliness to combat the spread of disease. We also provide antenatal and postnatal care to women, and monitor children under 5. This monitoring includes vaccinations for mothers and children. Additionally, we teach people how to prevent AIDS, HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other major diseases.
I am very actively involved in getting this program off the ground and am personally holding health seminars in villages to create awareness of our program. At the same time, I am also trying to improve the conditions in the local hospitals so that people here can have access to quality healthcare.
President, Swat Relief Initiative