October 31, 2011

Following torrential rains in Guatemala and Honduras, MSF has been providing relief items and medical consultations to displaced people.

Following the tropical depression that caused flooding and damage in several departments of Guatemala’s Pacific coast in mid-October, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is distributing relief items to affected populations in 13 communities of the Nueva Concepción municipality.

This area, located in the southern department of Escuintla, was the most affected; some 5,000 people had not yet been assisted.

"The most urgent food and medical needs have been covered locally," said Stefano Zannini, MSF’s emergency coordinator. "However, we will distribute blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits to improve the living conditions of some 1,000 families living in remote areas. Some of them are still displaced, while others were able to return to their homes, but in some cases people have lost everything."

He added that in a situation such as this, “it is important to prevent an increase in respiratory infections and other diseases related to poor sanitation," said Zannini.

In Honduras, where torrential rains have affected thousands of people, MSF has deployed a mobile clinic and offered more than 140 medical consultations to the Marcovia communities in the southern department of Choluteca.

An assessment of the health and medical needs has shown that the health system has quickly responded and that patients have free access to primary health care. MSF is thus focusing on the epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases, such as dengue, malaria, and leptospirosis, and on the disinfection of 20 contaminated wells identified in the area.

MSF will also conduct a mass distribution of doxycycline to support health centers in the prevention of leptospirosis, which is endemic in the region.

MSF has been working in Guatemala since 1984 in various projects. The organization currently provides medical, psychological and social assistance to victims of sexual violence in Guatemala City.

MSF has worked in Honduras since 1974. In the capital city, Tegucigalpa, teams are currently providing medical services to the most vulnerable population, victims of violence.

Given the frequency of natural disasters in Central America, MSF is ready to provide emergency assistance to disaster victims in the region and maintains an emergency team based in Panama.

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