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MSF Earthquake Relief
October 27, 2005
The international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to assist thousands of survivors of the October 8 South Asia earthquake in Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir.
While the treatment of wounds and fractures appears to be slightly decreasing, MSF is worried that the health of thousands of homeless and vulnerable people will deteriorate rapidly due to exposure and food shortages. MSF teams are distributing winterized tents, blankets and relief items such as cooking and hygiene kits, but at the moment, limits on logistical capacity in the difficult mountainous terrain is insufficient to get enough people adequate shelter before winter hits in a few weeks time.
MSF is currently assisting people in 15 locations in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, many of them accessible only by helicopter due to landslides and buckled roads. The teams see hundreds of patients every day, continue to dress wounds, provide post-operative as well as primary health care, and vaccinate hundreds against tetanus and measles. MSF is also providing surgical care, offering mental health support to traumatized people, and treating earthquake victims suffering from "crush syndrome".
Currently, more than 150 international staff including doctors, nurses, surgeons, psychologists, social workers, logisticians, water and sanitation experts as well as flight transport specialists, together with about a 100 local staff are working in MSF's earthquake relief program in Pakistan. In addition, MSF teams in Indian-administered Kashmir are providing mental health support, and distributing medical, logistical and other relief items to hospitals and affected individuals.
As of today, MSF has brought more than 620 tons of relief goods into Pakistan, including medical items (emergency medical kits, drugs, surgical and dressing material, dialysis machines, high-protein food, oral rehydration solution, etc.), logistical material (especially water and sanitation material such as tanks, pumps, and water treatment units) and shelter (about 120,000 blankets, 10,000 sleeping mats and 1,600 winterized tents). Additional relief items such as hygiene, cooking, and tool kits are being purchased locally.
MSF ACTIVITIES IN PAKISTAN
In and around Bagh: MSF has set up a complete field hospital in front of the collapsed district hospital building of Bagh. A number of tents accommodate a surgical theater, laboratory, delivery room, intensive care, and emergency room, as well as an in-patient department with about 40 beds. About ten operations are carried out every day. An MSF outpatient facility in another part of town receives about 75 patients every day.
In Bir Pani and Mallot, MSF provides basic health care in a tented facility to about one-hundred patients every day and refers serious cases to Bagh. In Paniani, MSF has just established a similar health facility and patients start arriving.
Jehlum and Neelum river valleys:
Mansehra and Khagan valley:
A team of nephrologists (kidney specialists) has treated victims with "crush syndrome". Crush syndrome is a condition in which muscle tissue damaged by severe internal injury may release massive quantities of toxins into the bloodstream and lead to kidney failure. MSF flew in four dialysis machines and medicines needed to treat the syndrome. Left untreated, crush syndrome can be fatal.
Mental Health Support
In Muzaffarabad, Mansehra, Bagh and Hattian MSF offers psychosocial counseling to patients and homeless people. Since the start of the program, several hundred survivors have shared their stories with MSF psychologists, social workers and local counselors during individual or group sessions.
Water and Sanitation
In Muzaffarabad, MSF logisticians improve water and sanitation facilities in several displaced camps. About 70 latrines have been built and MSF is providing about 400,000 liters of chlorinated drinking water for distribution by truck every day. Logisticians are also improving the water supply and sanitation facilities in the district hospital of Bagh. In Mansehra, MSF has set up latrines and a water system with a total storage capacity of 25,000 liters that provides drinking water to the hospital and another health structure.
Distribution of relief goods
In many locations where MSF medical teams are working, winterized tents are being distributed to people in desperate need of shelter. In addition, thousands of mats, blankets, and plastic sheeting are being provided to the enormous number of people who are still sleeping in the open. Hygiene and cooking kits as well as heating equipment are being distributed as well.
ACTIVITIES IN INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are continuing to work in Srinagar, Tangdor, and Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Relief in Tangdor
Relief in Uri
Medical Support in Srinagar Hospitals
MSF is continuing to provide psychosocial support to victims of the earthquake including orphans and unaccompanied family members. MSF has provided trauma counseling to 700 injured people in the hospitals in Srinagar through 24-hour counseling activities in the medical wards. In addition to the trauma counseling, MSF has referred orphans to orphanages, helped reunite separated families, and advocated for the establishment of a relief center by the government, which was opened on October 17.
In total so far, MSF has distributed 10,000 blankets, 10,000 jackets, 13,200 bottles of water, 700 tents, shelter materials for another 700 shelters, kitchen utensils for 3,000 families, and medical and food supplies.