December 4, 2007
Cyclone Sidr, which wreaked havoc on Bangladesh's coastal areas on November 15, killed more than 3,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless, according to the latest official figures. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing assistance to victims in some of the most remote areas affected by the cyclone.
Two MSF mobile clinics are now providing medical assistance to victims in Mathbaria, south of Pirojbur district, and two additional clinics will soon follow. The teams have carried out more than 350 consultations in and around the villages of Sapelzehat (45,000 inhabitants) and Betemore (28,000 inhabitants), so far. The medical teams have been treating cases of diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, skin and eyes infections, as well as minor open wounds.
"Flying tin roofs and falling trees have resulted in a lot of traumatic injuries. Because people have not received any medical care until now, many of the wounds are infected," says Dr. Unni Karunakara, whose team was also distributing blankets and soap. "The people we saw today in Kochubaria were totally desperate. They have received little assistance, as access to the village is difficult."
Lack of access to clean water in Kochubaria is also a serious concern. Debris and animal carcasses have contaminated many water sources. On December 2, 30 out of 53 patients MSF saw were suffering from diarrhea, as well as skin infections related to poor water. Over one-quarter of patients that MSF has treated so far have come for treatment of diarrhea.
"Since the cyclone, the whole village has fallen sick," explains local resident Abdul Khaled. "There is no clean water around here, and we have no choice but to drink from the river and nearby ponds."
MSF is planning to go back to Kochubaria to make sure all diarrhea cases are treated.
In combination with medical care, MSF is distributing water purification tablets, and is bringing in materials to clean and repair water sources. MSF is also offering technical support to Mathbaria Hospital to improve water treatment and waste management.
In the islands around Galachipa in Patuakhali district, where many people have lost everything in the storm, MSF is distributing kits with essential items. The teams have already distributed more than 1,000 kits that include cooking utensils, blankets, water containers, and clothes. MSF plans to hand out around 4,000 kits in total, using speedboats and fishing trawlers where roads are impassable.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)