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MSF Operations in Asian Earthquake Areas
October 14, 2005
October 14, 2005 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams are operating in both the Pakistani- and Indian-administered areas of Kashmir to assist victims of last Saturday's earthquake. Almost 80 international aid workers are working alongside dozens of national staff to provide medical assistance, mental health counseling, and relief and medical supplies to some of the hardest-hit areas.
MSF is airlifting more than 110 metric tons of medical (surgical kits, wound dressings) and relief (winterized tents, blankets, generators, water tanks, plastic sheeting) supplies to the Pakistani capital Islamabad, to support the aid operations.
Nearly 70 MSF physicians, nurses, mental health specialists, logisticians, and water-sanitation specialists have been dispatched to Pakistan. MSF mobile medical teams have been working in the town of Muzafarrabad, which lies to northeast of Islamabad, since Monday, Oct. 10. The teams have established mobile clinics near the University in Muzafarrabad, where many displaced people have congregated. The teams are treating about 150 people per day who are suffering from infected wounds, fractures, and contusions.
Now that other aid agencies are working inside Muzafarrabad, MSF mobile medical teams are trying to reach isolated populations outside the town. In an example of the difficulty of reaching these outlying villages, one MSF team had to abandon their vehicle because a landslide had made the road impassable, and walk 10 kilometers to reach the village of Garid Pata, where they treated wounded people.
Another medical team has established a basic health-care clinic in Lamnian, a town in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The team is treating many injured people, some with infected wounds. The town is believed to have a population of 25,000.
An MSF team of two provides medical care to wounded people in a location near Hattian and has seen 40 cases in one day, many of them severely injured. The majority were open fractures and chest injuries. Some patients had old dressings that required urgent follow up. The village near Hattian with an estimated population of about 1,500 is entirely destroyed.
In Bagh, an MSF team is supporting a makeshift emergency hospital that has been set up in a school building by Pakistani Ministry of Health staff. The town is badly affected with about 90 percent of buildings destroyed or severely damaged. The area, south of Muzafarrabad, is estimated to have a population of 60,000 with as many as 400,000 people living in the Bagh Valley.
In Balakot, north of Mansehra in Pakistan's North Western Frontier Province, an assessment team reached the 600-bed district hospital, which was partially collapsed. Patients were still being care for on the ground floor, but the local medical staff was completely overwhelmed with patients. In Mansehra, also in the province, another medical team found a similar situation. The district hospital was extremely damaged and patients had been moved to tents outside.
MSF has 10 international aid workers and 53 national staff distributing medical and relief supplies, and providing basic health care and mental health counseling to people in Indian-administered Kashmir.
In Baramullah district, MSF has distributed 75 tents to displaced people. An MSF team has reached Tangdar, the most remote part of Indian-administered Kashmir, and is now treating basic injuries in Bhalikut village. MSF is preparing enough relief supplies to provide assistance to 20,000 people in Tangdar for a period of four weeks.
A medical team is assisting nearly 400 families in Cherundu in Uri district. Mental health counselors are offering support to victims receiving treatment in four hospitals in Srinigar, and also providing food and clothing to unaccompanied children, and then referring them from the hospitals to orphanages. MSF is also providing medical and logistical supplies to these hospitals.
In total, MSF has distributed 10,000 blankets, 5,000 meters of plastic sheeting for shelters, 80 tents, 10,000 sets of clothes, 7,000 bottles of water, 2 tons of food, and 1 ton of medical supplies to affected people and medical structures in India.