Monday, August 7, 2017

Pakistan - Psychological ailments on rise among Parachinar people

Ashfaq Yusufzai
Psychiatrists have expressed concerns over increasing depression, post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety among the residents of Parachinar owing to acts of terrorism.
They urged the government to set up a foundation to provide assistance to the orphans and rehabilitate the people, who lost their limbs and other organs in acts of terrorism.
“The residents of Parachinar have suffered immensely. On an average, one person died in violent acts in every household during the past few years. There are widows, orphans and disabilities all around,” renowned psychiatrist Prof Syed Mohammad Sultan told Dawn.
He said that it was common in Parachinar to see young people walking with the help of on crutches. He said that the victims happened to be poor. He added that of the 250,000 population of the area, 2,500 people were killed in acts of terrorism.
“The inhabitants have paid heavy price for the decade-long insurgency, which caused depression among them,” said Prof Sultan, the chairman of psychiatry department at Khyber Teaching Hospital.
He said that foundations for the families of killed people were set up to provide education to the children and assist them in getting other needs of life. “Otherwise, the burden of psychiatric ailment would take heavy toll on the population because their lives have become hard,” he added.
Ajmal Shah, who lost his both lower limbs in the latest twin bomb blasts on Eidul Fitr, said that all the victims were daily wagers or shopkeepers, whose families were destined to look for alms and charity as there was no assistance for them. He said that Eidul Fitr was not celebrated in Panachinar as people mourned their dead.
Mr Shah, who was treated at Lady Reading Hospital, said that every graveyard in his hometown had at least a dozen graves of the victims of terrorism with red flags hoisted on them. He said that the children, who were supposed to be in schools, were sitting in homes because they had lost their bread earners.
“The recent attack killed a child, his father and a grandfather. A mother of five children lost her husband. Who will bear the cost of their upbringing,” he questioned.
Another psychiatrist said that he had been receiving the members of bereaved families from Parachinar. They needed medication, rehabilitation and socio-economic support to be able to come out of the quagmire, he added.
Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency, has been neglected by government to the extent that people had got a complete sense of deprivation.
“A terrorism attack in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad get extensive media coverage while attacks in Fata are reported for a brief period. Compared to other parts of the country, terrorism incidence get five per cent coverage on media,” he said.
He said that the attitude would create distance between Fata and rest of the country. “The latest example is the deaths of the people, who were collecting petrol from oil tanker in Punjab.
The victims’ families were given Rs2 million as compensation but the people of Fata people get Rs300, 000 for losing their family members in acts of terrorism,” said the psychiatrist.
He said that government announced Rs1 million per person for victims of Parachinar only after a weeklong sit-in and countrywide protest but that compensation was not going to help them on durable basis. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, another psychiatrist, said that not only terrorism but natural calamities affected people due to which they got exposed to host of ailments. The government should extend support to them on permanent basis, he added.
“Post traumatic stress disorders, phobic disorders, anxiety and depression are definite outcome of bereavement that can be overcome through continuous medical and economic support by the government. We need to give them continuous medication and put brakes on relapses among the affected people,” said the psychiatrist.

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