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Doctors Without Borders Surgical Team Starts Operations in Sigli, East of Banda Aceh
January 5, 2005
January 5, 2005 - A Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) surgical team has started working in Sigli General District Hospital. Sigli, the capital of Pidie district on the eastern coast of Aceh, is an area that has been severely damaged by the tsunami. The 35-bed hospital has remained open with the help of Indonesian staff (many of the employees of the hospital were killed).
Over the weekend, an MSF exploratory mission found the surgical ward of Sigli hospital crammed with injured patients. Every day more of the injured arrive from all over Pidie as well as Banda Aceh. In the first 60 consultations, MSF found 20 infected wounds and performed surgery on six wounded people. One of the primary tasks for the MSF staff is to improve the sanitation in the hospital, which was described by the exploratory team as 'appalling.' The next few days will also see an increase in patient capacity with the opening of another building that has an additional 18 rooms.
In the same area, MSF has started a mobile clinic in Kembang Tanjung for the displaced population. The displaced live in 60 camps which accommodate an estimated 47,000 people. MSF is beginning this operation by initially concentrating on the bigger sites, composed of approximately 3,000 people each.
Further east from Sigli, in the General District Hospital of Bireuen, MSF has donated medicines and infusion materials and has set up a medical supply link with the MSF team in Sigli. Between the two hospitals, there are approximately 400 patients with about 50 arriving daily. 80 percent of the new arrivals have been from Banda Aceh.
The MSF mobile clinic in Banda Aceh spent most of Tuesday with an approximate 1,000 displaced people outside a mosque in the Cot Keung area. The 141 consultations were essentially for injuries, skin diseases and respiratory tract infections.
Further logistical difficulties have been posed by Tuesday's closure of the airport in Banda Aceh; however, with the 120 tons of relief items that MSF has brought in over the previous days, there were still enough materials (although low on nutritional items) for our medical teams to continue operations.
The problems at the airport did not interrupt the schedule of the MSF helicopter. It flew to Lamno and Lampe-Ngo on the west coast delivering 270 kilos of rice, 100 tarpaulins, and dropped off a water and sanitation specialist. In both villages, MSF teams stayed overnight. On the return journey, the helicopter air lifted seven patients in need of hospitalization. They are now in Fakine hospital receiving treatment for broken legs and infected wounds.
The Rainbow Warrior, offered to MSF by Greenpeace for transport and increased access to coastal communities, left Medan yesterday carrying a medical team of MSF aid workers and supplies. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Banda Aceh on Wednesday.
MSF has 57 aid workers in Aceh, including 37 Indonesians. More aid will be arriving over the upcoming days.