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MSF Provides Assistance to Peru Earthquake Victims
July 11, 2001
After a second earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit Peru on July 5, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to aid the local population. A second cargo plane arrived two days after the tremor, carrying medicines and materials for constructing temporary shelter.
MSF is working in the most damaged areas of the Moquegua region. The team continues to assess health structures in local villages and MSF has provided medicines, tents and plastic sheeting. In the Tacna region, MSF continues to assess the needs, provide medical aid and water and sanitation activities, and has installed a dispensary tent in the town of Locumba where the local health facility was damaged.
In the Arequipa region, MSF continues to provide psychosocial support. The coastal area was hit by a tsunami shortly after the first earthquake, leaving residents panic-stricken. Around 2,000 people are now living in settlements of tents and plastic sheeting. The tsunami hurt both farming land and dragged rubble into the sea making fishing impossible.
"A natural disaster reminds us that we are human beings, that we are vulnerable," explains Germán Casas, an MSF psychiatrist. "After a huge disaster like this one, it is paramount to offer psychological support to help them get over the situation and prevent severe post-traumatic stress disorders."
Update: June 28, 2001
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working in the Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna regions of Peru to assist the victims of last Saturday's earthquake which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. The quake killed more than 100 people and injured more than 1,000.
The MSF team, made up of medical staff and water and sanitation specialists, is focusing on the urgent medical needs of people living in isolated, rural areas and the most affected urban areas.
"In small communities, adobe houses have collapsed and people live in the street, without shelter and no access to drinkable water," says Peter Meurrens, MSF medical coordinator in the Moquegua. "This situation can lead to an increase of acute respiratory infections and acute diarrhea diseases in the coming days."
A team of MSF psychologists will also implement a support program to address the tremor's mental impact. "The population affected by the earthquake is experiencing psychological reactions such as fear, anxiety or sadness, which are normal reactions in the aftermath of a natural disaster. To avoid more serious post-traumatic stress disorders, we'll train a network of medical staff and teachers to duplicate counselling activities, so that people feel supported and can overcome the situation," explains Barbara Laumont, coordinator of MSF's psychological program.
A plane carrying 31 metric tons of relief items, coming from Europe, will land in Arequipa where there is much destruction. The cargo includes medicines and medical supplies, tents, plastic sheeting, and blankets, plus water and sanitation materials. A nurse, a logistician and a water and sanitation specialist will also be on board to strengthen teams already working in the area.
At the time of the earthquake, MSF was already present in Peru running several medical programs. In Satipo, MSF runs a project to improve diagnosis and treatment of cutaneous and muco-cutaneous leishmaniasis and in Lima, an HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program. At the end of this month, MSF will end a six-year project to improve access to healthcare for indigenous and mestizo populations who live along Ucayali river in Pucallpa region.