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Men beside a fire in Lahore, Pakistan

Winter can be a difficult time across the globe, but it’s particularly detrimental to those living in developing countries. Upwards of nine million people in Pakistan are living in extreme poverty, meaning they are incapable of fighting against the challenges winter will throw their way. 

Unlike many of us, these people can’t retreat to a warm and cosy home to shield themselves from harsh weather conditions, with 20 million members of the population being considered homeless. Even in the absence of a home, many can’t rely on a hot meal to keep them warm and nourished. A many as three million residents go without food daily. In addition to this, hydration is vital to maintaining health and building a strong immune system, yet Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing a water shortage. This leaves millions unable to fight off winter viruses, resulting in serious illnesses and death.

There is no denying that COVID-19 has caused havoc across the globe; however, its effects are set to worsen during the winter months. Viruses tend to spread much more rampantly in colder temperatures, whilst plenty of other illnesses are circulating at the same time. This only exacerbates the strain that healthcare systems have been experiencing for years, meaning millions are going without life-saving medical care. 

Here at UKIM, we provide Muslim charity work in Pakistan to save struggling individuals from the imminent threat of winter. We rely on your donations to keep the people of Pakistan safe, warm, hydrated, and nourished this winter. 

The Impact of Homelessness

Pakistan is among the seven most populous countries worldwide, resulting in limited infrastructure to accommodate its population of over 227.1 million. As a result, countless people are left without a stable home, forced to jump from place to place or simply sleep on the streets. Women and children are the worst affected by the frightening homeless statistics, with many living in slums and temporary housing. Since education isn’t an option for these people, they’re forced to find exploitative work or sell goods on the street to try and gather enough money to feed themselves. 

In addition to the stunted social mobility of women and children, natural disasters have devastated Pakistan over the last 20 years. From the ongoing effects of an earthquake to yearly flooding, homes are constantly being destroyed, leaving millions without a place to lay their head.

Though we’re often led to believe that Pakistan maintains warm temperatures all year round, this isn’t quite the case. In fact, from December to February, the weather will typically be cool and dry, leaving those on the streets and in subpar shelters susceptible to the cold. Not only is this unimaginably uncomfortable, but it can be detrimental to people’s health, bringing on colds, the flu, and pneumonia. 

In developed countries, healthy individuals are often capable of fighting off these illnesses alone, or the healthcare systems are well equipped to treat them. However, many inhabitants of Pakistan aren’t in a position to strengthen their immune systems, nor are their healthcare systems able to provide relief. As a result, many residents of Pakistan die of treatable illnesses every winter.

The Effect of COVID-19

In order to stop the spread of Coronavirus, everyone across the globe was urged to social distance and wash their hands regularly. For much of Pakistan, this simply wasn’t doable and still won’t be possible in the coming months when the infection rate is set to rise. Due to the worsening water shortage, millions of citizens don’t have access to safe water to wash their hands. Additionally, those who do have homes are forced to live in cramped conditions where social distancing is impossible. 

In developed countries, the vaccine rollout has been successful in building people’s resistance to the virus. Therefore, even if they find themselves infected, the consequences typically won’t be fatal. However, a lack of funding means that this hasn’t been as readily implemented throughout Pakistan. As a result, infections could lead to dire consequences that overwhelmed hospitals and medical centres simply can’t accommodate. This makes Coronavirus a deathly concept for these individuals. 

The Healthcare System

The majority of Pakistan is not fortunate enough to have government-funded healthcare, with 78% of the population paying for their medical care out of their own pockets. This is a dangerous concept when considering the staggering number of people living in poverty. When someone must choose between paying for food and paying for healthcare, they will often go without lifesaving aid which will result in a death that could have been prevented. 

For the past year, thousands of patients have been arriving at hospitals and medical centres with severe cases of Coronavirus. Pakistan’s healthcare system is completely overwhelmed, and the situation is set to worsen as other winter illnesses begin to develop. The medical sector is simply not prepared to tackle what lies ahead. 

What You Can Do to Help

You can help the people of Pakistan by donating to our Pakistan children’s charity and contributing to our Winter Appeal. Millions are going without lifesaving aid and your donations can rescue them from what lies ahead.

Together with UK Islamic Mission, you can make the change. Please donate today. 

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