January 10, 2005
January 10, 2005 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent more than 150 international aid workers and 400 tons of relief materials to provide assistance to people affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami in South Asia. MSF is focusing aid operations on Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but is continuing to assess the humanitarian needs in the region. Additional aid workers and relief cargo will be deployed as needed.
Since an MSF emergency team arrived in hard-hit Aceh, Indonesia, on December 28 with six tons of aid supplies, more than 60 MSF international aid workers and 120 tons of relief, food, and medical materials have been airlifted to the area. Currently, MSF is working in five main locationsâ€”the provincial capital Banda Aceh, Meulaboh, Medan, Lamno, and Lampe-Ngoâ€”to assist roughly 100,000 people.
From a base in Banda Aceh, MSF is operating mobile medical teams by helicopter to the east and west; 20 aid mission have been undertaken since December 31. The helicopter has a 2,500-pound carrying capacity, and is filled with three staff members and medical supplies. The remaining capacity is filled with rice, tarpaulins, water, and other aid supplies. The team transports any seriously wounded people back to Fakinah hospital in Banda Aceh, where they receive treatment for broken limbs and infected wounds. Another smaller helicopter is operating out of Meulaboh on the west coast.
On January 8, an MSF medical team conducted 105 consultations in an elementary school in Aceh Besar, where 369 displaced people are living in classrooms and in a tent. The team transferred six people to the hospital for treatment of infected wounds. A psychologist with the team conducted five individual counseling sessions for people suffering from severe psychological trauma.
In Sigli, MSF is preparing a measles-vaccination campaign for 25,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 15 years old. A team of Indonesian health workers has taken over responsibility of the Sigli General District Hospital from an MSF team. The MSF team is now focusing on conducting mobile clinics and vaccinations for the 11,000 displaced people living in the three sites. There are an estimated 50,000 displaced people living in and around Sigli.
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.
In Banda Aceh, an MSF mobile clinic is performing medical consultations in Leumpung camp, where 6,000 people have settled. The team is also providing psychosocial support.
An MSF water-and-sanitation team installed an emergency water supply system for the patients in Fakinah hospital.
"This tank feeds a tap stand on ground level and guarantees that there is enough water pressure," says MSF water-and-sanitation expert Delphine Mortier. "The water from this stand is for the staff, the patients and their families. The capacity should be sufficient; the bladder is actually rather large for a hospital."
Over two days, the mobile clinic in Banda Aceh performed 140 medical consultationsâ€”mostly respiratory tract infections and woundsâ€”in Pesantren Babul Maghfirah, an Islamic school in the Cot Keung district. The school normally houses about 30 students, but now is a temporary home for more than 1,850 displaced people from surrounding areas.
In Lam Asar Siem, in the Darussalam district of eastern Banda Aceh, one of MSF's mobile medical teams performed 98 consultations on January 6. Around 200 local people and 100 displaced persons from other areas are crammed together in this area. The most common pathologies treated are wounds, respiratory tract infections, and skin diseases, while many people are also suffering from serious mental trauma.
The mobile teams continue to run aid operations in the villages of Lamno and Lampe-Ngo on the western coast of Aceh. On January 4, MSF delivered more than 600 pounds of rice, 100 tarpaulins, and dropped off a water-and-sanitation specialist. An estimated 11,000 people are living in six displaced-persons camps in Lamno. In Lampe-Ngo there an estimated 3,000 displaced people who have been forced to dry and eat rice that had been submerged by salt water during the tsunami. Local people told the MSF team that around 80 percent of the village's population remains unaccounted for.
In Meulaboh, on the west coast, a team visited an 80-bed hospital, where a surgeon was working without a nurse to treat some 200 people with wounds. An MSF surgical team is now operating in the hospital, and seven MSF nurses are also supporting the hospital. There are an estimated 31,000 people living in 29 displaced-persons camps.
MSF is working with the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" and its crew of 19 to transport equipment, food, fuel, medical supplies, and MSF medical staff to Meulaboh.
MSF has more than 40 aid workers, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and logisticians, on the ground in Sri Lanka. They are trying to coordinate their efforts with the already strong response from local authorities and communities.
Charter planes with more than 200 tons of aid supplies have arrived in the capital Colombo. In addition to relief materials, the cargo contains the equipment and supplies to set up hospitals to care for 40,000 people for a period of three months.
MSF is supporting a network of 13 mobile clinics attending to the displaced and affected populations on Sri Lanka's east coast in Kalmunai South, Kalmunai North, Saintharmaruthu, Karaitivu, Ninthavur, Alayadiyempu, Thirakkovil, and Portuvvil. Each is providing an average of 150 medical consultations per day. MSF is also supporting the epidemiological surveillance system to ensure a rapid response to any disease outbreaks.
MSF is also planning to set up field hospitals in Sainthamaruthu and Nintavur, and two outpatient departments in Maruthammani and Komari. In Pottuvil, Thirukovil and Akkaraipatu. MSF will supply some essential matierals like beds and stretchers to local hospitals. MSF is also supplying essential medicines and basic medical material to health centers and mobile clinics in the area. MSF teams will distribute shelter materials like tents, mosquito nets, water-purification tablets, and jerry cans to 6,000 families, roughly 24,000 people, living in 125 settlements in and around Ampara.
MSF started providing its first medical consultations in Kucchevali, near Trincomalee, where more than 3,000 displaced people have settled. The MSF team spent three days cleaning up a hospital there that had been damaged during the tsunami, and plans to open an outpatient department in the hospital. MSF is distributing water and shelter materials, including 600 tents, to displaced people in Kucchevali. Further north in Tiriyai, MSF is also providing water and shelter support. MSF has established an outpatient clinic in Tangalla on the southern coast and set up shelters for 10 families in the area. In Matara, the MSF team is assisting 3,200 displaced people. Mobile teams will provide assistance to displaced people in the area. An outpatient clinic has also been opened in nearby Hambantoa. MSF is also trying to establish a network of local doctors to provide psychosocial support to people traumatized by the disaster.
After conducting assessments in southeastern India in Chennai and Nagapattinam, MSF is focusing its operations on psychological support for the victims.
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