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As Karachi Succumbs to a Record-Breaking Heatwave, Social Media to the Rescue

Ward 5 of Karachi's Jinnah Hospital's has been reserved for heatstroke patients. Image from Junaid Akram's Facebook page.

Ward 5 of Karachi's Jinnah Hospital's has been reserved for heatstroke patients. Image from Junaid Akram's Facebook page.

More than 1,250 people have died after a record-breaking heatwave hit Karachi, the world’s second most populated city. As temperatures peaked at 114 F on the second day of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, when public eating and drinking is outlawed in Pakistan, there was also a power grid failure, making the the city’s poorest even more susceptible to illness as a result of the heat.

Many have ended up in Karachi’s poorly run and under-financed government hospitals. As images of these dilapidated establishments started to circulate on social media and on the country’s many TV channels, dozens of volunteers came together informally to “adopt” government hospital wards treating heat wave victims.

Friends of mine from the Ikmaan Welfare Trust have been working at Jinnah Hospital, where Ward 5 has been dedicated to heatstroke patients. On visiting the ward on June 30 and taking note of the conditions there, I tweeted the following:

The call for wheelchairs received an immediate response from Junaid Akram, a standup comedian from Pakistan. He donated 5 wheelchairs and has ordered stretchers as well. Here is what Junaid Akram wrote on his Facebook page:

UPDATE: Saw this tweet earlier today about wheelchair conditions at Ward 5 of Jinnah Hospital. Ward 5 has been dedicated to heat stroke patients. Urgently delivered 5 wheelchairs as shown in the picture below – they were handed over to Dr. Dil Nawaz. Moreover, there's a shortage of moveable stretchers so I've placed an order to a company in Lahore which will deliver 10 pieces via freight train by Saturday inshallah. Those stretchers along with 10 wheelchairs will be sent to Korangi National Hospital which is a government hospital made in the impoverished industrial area for the residents there.

For more information on the heatwave in Pakistan and related relief efforts, follow .

Five wheelchairs being delivered to Jinnah Hospital in Karachi. Photo from Junaid Akram's Facebook page.

Five wheelchairs being delivered to Jinnah Hospital in Karachi. Photo from Junaid Akram's Facebook page.

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