The floods that ravaged Pakistan were the worst ever in living memory. Nearly 20 million were affected and vast tracts of fertile agricultural land had been inundated. The battle continues to rage with water-borne diseases and malnutrition while the authorities and aid workers struggle to provide regular medical attention to displaced populations.
The satellite terminals that support high-speed data have the potential to provide the much needed link between medical aid workers in the field and referral centres thus providing diagnostic support and real-time consultation with medical specialists in far-off hospitals anywhere in the world.
As the floods raged through the Indus basin in August this year, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour affirmed his solidarity with the people of Pakistan. Reiterating his support, Dr Tour said, The havoc caused by the floods will have long-term repercussions on the social and economic life of Pakistan. At this time, it is critical to reach aid to the survivors, especially those living in remote, difficult-to-access areas. The broadband satellite terminals deployed by ITU will help communications with the outside world as well as provide telemedicine capabilities.
Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITUs Telecommunication Development Bureau said that the deployment of satellite terminals would assist government authorities and aid workers in establishing communication links in remote districts, especially in the far-flung mountainous areas of the upper Indus valley where the need for medical attention is becoming even more acute with the onset of winter.
ITU is working with Inmarsat, Iridium Communications, Vizada, and Thuraya, ITUs emergency communications partners within the ITUs Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE) to ensure connectivity for satellite handsets, which will be used by local authorities to facilitate humanitarian assistance to disaster victims.