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El Salvador Earthquake Relief Efforts
January 19, 2001
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to provide health care, clean drinking water, shelter, latrines, and psychosocial care to thousands left homeless by the earthquake, which struck nearly two weeks ago destroying 97 municipalities and affecting 750,000 people. MSF is working in San Salvador, Armenia, Cafetalon, Lourdes, Sonsonate, and surrounding rural communities.
Psychosocial Care to Earthquake Victims
In Cafetalon, a sports center where over 10,000 people have gathered, MSF is running mental health programs with a team consisting of 5 psychologists and 1 psychiatrist to help the affected population deal with psychosocial trauma. Each day, the team attends to 100-150 patients and provides therapy to over 300 children.
Most of the patients are suffering typical levels of emotional distress, such as shock and fear. The more severe patients are experiencing acute traumatic stress disorders like psychosis. The team is also carrying out community and psychosocial activities among the general population aiming to support self-help mechanisms. Community leaders are being trained and families are encouraged to support each other and support those who are alone.
Update: Friday, January 19, 2001
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working in 5 locations (San Salvador, Comasagua, Santa Tecla, Armenia, and Cafetalon area) hit hard by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck El Salvador last Saturday, January 13. Fifty-three MSF aid volunteers are working with local staff and the Ministry of Health to provide relief.
In Santa Tecla where the earthquake triggered a landslide that buried 200 homes, 6500 people have gathered in a sports center. MSF is overseeing all water and sanitation activities in the makeshift shelter. Two large water bladders have been installed, and 100 pit latrines and 50 showers have been built so far. MSF is distributing plastic sheeting and medicines. A team of four psychologists has been giving mental health support to adults and children, averaging about thirty consultations per day.
In the capital, San Salvador, MSF is working in 2 of the main hospitals, Rosales and Maternidad, both of which were severely damaged by the quake. Nine provisional clinics are being built for patients who were evacuated. Teams are also distributing medical supplies and medical material (specially orthopedics) in 2 other hospitals: San Miguel and Sonsonate. Three MSF trauma surgeons were flown in Tuesday, and are treating the injured in Usulutan, Santa Ana, and Rosales hospitals in El Salvador.
In Armenia, where most of the city's infrastructure was damaged, there is no water. MSF has provided water tanks to the most severely affected areas. Medicine and medical equipment are being delivered to the health center that has not been damaged, but faces a lack of supplies. In San Augustin, where 100% of buildings were destroyed, and in Usulutan where the hospital was damaged, MSF has installed two tents for shelter and two water tanks, and provided 1200 blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen utensils, BP-5, and other relief items.
Assessment teams are reviewing the situation and relief needs in the region from San Salvador up to the Guatemalan border and small neighborhoods surrounding Cafetalon.
MSF is concerned that the lack of clean drinking water and poor living conditions will exacerbate a diarrhea outbreak that affected 8,500 people before the earthquake struck.
MSF medical teams are monitoring the situation and logistical experts are working to set up water and sanitation facilities to avoid worsening the diarrhea epidemic.