October 6, 1999
Dili, East Timor — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) now has 21 volunteers providing medical care and water/sanitation support in Dili and Baucau, East Timor. Three additional volunteers are providing logistical coordination in Darwin, Australia.
On Friday, October 1, MSF flew additional personnel and seven metric tons of medicines, medical supplies, and water and sanitation equipment to Baucau, 115 kilometers east of Dili. The 12-member MSF team in Baucau now includes a surgeon, a physician, and four nurses. The team has set up an outpatient clinic to treat the estimated 9,000 displaced residents of Baucau who have returned to their homes. MSF worked in Baucau Hospital providing medical and surgical care until September 7, 1999, when extreme insecurity in the city forced the team to leave. The team is preparing to return to work in Baucau Hospital later this week.
Baucau did not suffer major destruction during the recent weeks of violence, but sanitation is very much a concern as there are dead animals in the streets and the sewage system has been damaged. MSF volunteers are also visiting surrounding villages, including Los Palos and Souro, to assess the state of health care facilities and needs.
MSF resumed activities in Dili on September 24. A team of seven medical and logistic staff are providing medical care in the Dili Stadium where returning displaced persons have gathered. Averaging 120 consultations per day, the MSF team is primarily treating patients suffering from malaria, respiratory infections, and skin diseases. In Dili, MSF is also distributing plastic sheeting, collapsible water bags, and supplementary food, as needed.