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MSF Operations in Tropical Storm Stan-Affected Areas of Guatemala
October 17, 2005
Ten days after Tropical Storm Stan hit Guatemala and El Salvador Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have conducted assessments by land and helicopter covering most of the affected areas. Nearly 70 international and national staff are now assisting Guatemalans affected by the flooding and landslides. In addition to providing first-aid kits and medical assistance, MSF is consolidating its initial emergency response by increasing access to potable water and by setting up an epidemiological surveillance system to monitor diseases such as malaria and dengue, endemic in areas most-affected by the tropical storm.
Teams are working in the Solola, Retalhuleu, Escuintla, Santa Rosa, Quetzaltenango, and San Marcos departments.
Atitlan Lake Area, Solola Department
Three logisticians, a doctor, and a nurse first arrived in the Lake Atitlan area on Friday, October 7, and carried out assessments in the towns of Santiago de Atitlan and San Pedro Laguna, which were reported to be severely affected by the storm. Almost 6,000 people are estimated to be living in 40 provisional shelters in Santiago de Atitlan. Two MSF trucks carrying 7,000 kilograms of relief materials (including a basic emergency medical materials, blankets, mattresses, and drinking water) arrived in the area on Saturday, October 8. On Tuesday, October 11, an additional truck carrying 4,500 kilograms of relief supplies was sent to the area. Those supplies included plastic sheeting, blankets, and materials for purifying 22,000 liters of drinking water.
Access to potable water and overcrowding in shelters remain the main health concerns as numerous affected people, left homeless by the tropical Storm, cannot find shelter in churches, schools, or with their extended families.
Retalhuleu and Escuintla Department
MSF accessed the area by helicopter. An MSF vehicle delivered two emergency medical kits to Champerico (population of 8,000).
During assessments carried out last week, MSF teams discovered two small towns where no aid had been provided at all since the beginning of the emergency. The communities of Canoítia and Santa Ana had very limited water supplies, the majority of houses were damaged, and the healthcare center had collapsed.
Santa Rosa Department
There are now approximately 850 people living in 3 shelters. MSF organized a health committee in one of the shelters and made a donation of chlorine, hygiene, and health supplies. Following assessments carried out in Chiquimulilla and several surrounding villages (population of 3,100 families), MSF is concerned by risks of outbreaks of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. In order to reduce transmission risks of these diseases, MSF is planning to clean and disinfect more than 3,000 wells in Chiquimulilla, distribute 10,000 insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets, set up vector control systems, and continue to assess the housing situation of displaced people in the area. In the next days, mobile medical teams will visit communities around Chiquimulilla to carry out consultations and epidemiological monitoring.
MSF has also carried out assessments in San Marcos and the surrounding villages, donating two emergency medical kits in Tacana in San Marcos zone.
At least 6,000 people still live in provisional shelters in Coatepeque (population of 130,000). MSF carried out medical consultations in a shelter for 400 people displaced by the storm before it closed on Wednesday, October 12. Authorities affirm that the health situation is under control. MSF is still monitoring the situation while normal activities carry on in the MSF AIDS clinic in Coatepeque.
San Marcos Department
In Ocós, MSF opened a small clinic and a supply center where a medical team carried out consultations during two days, treating 130 people, mostly for minor conditions.
MSF installed three 40,000-liter water tanks in Ocós. In the coming days, the team will clean up wells and set up other additional water and sanitation activities in Ocós, Limones, and La independencia.
MSF has also conducted assessments through the Mexican border to reach the isolated town of Malacatan in Guatemala.