MSF brings help to cyclone-stricken Bangladesh
November 23, 2007
After a cyclone hit Bangladesh on November 15, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) dispatched three teams to assess the most affected areas. About 15 people, including medical and logistical staff, are currently in Bohla, Patuakhali, Jhalakati, Pirojpur, and Bagherat districts, which encompass the islands and coastal areas in the south of the country.
“In the islands of Galachipa, about 80 percent of the houses have been destroyed and people have lost almost all their belongings,” said Tony Marchant, an MSF logistician who assessed the area of around 300,000 inhabitants in Patuakhali district.
Damages are considerable, but there has been a good local response to this emergency. Distributions of food and shelter have being undertaken. At the medical level, so far, the response from authorities and local NGOs has been sufficient in covering the main needs. Mobile clinics are active and local health structures are functioning.
As a first response, MSF teams have donated some medical material and plastic sheeting in remote areas. One thousand kits with basic items, including soap, towels, clothing, kitchen utensils, jerry cans for water, and buckets will be distributed to affected families.
“In the islands we visited, water sources have been contaminated and latrines have been flooded,” describes Marchant. “People have to look for undamaged sources, or even drink unclean water.” Access to drinkable water is a common concern in these areas, but the cyclone has made the situation even worse.
In order to improve the population’s access to drinking water, MSF is sending six tons of water and sanitation material from Brussels to Bangladesh, including water pumps and chlorination material. In addition, another logistician is being dispatched to reinforce the team.