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MSF in India, 2006
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Indian authorities estimated that approximately 1500 people in Indian-controlled Kashmir lost their lives and 6000 were injured in the powerful earthquake that struck northeast Afghanistan, the north of Pakistan, and northwest India on October 8, 2005.
Civilians in India’s northeastern Assam and Manipur states continue to be affected by recurring outbreaks of political violence along religious and ethnic lines.Over the last five years, more than 150,000 people have fled their homes because of violence. Photo © Henk Braam
MSF launched an emergency aid operation to assist those in need in both India and Pakistan, where the epicenter of the earthquake was located. In India, MSF aid comprised the distribution of thousands of blankets, tents, sets of clothes and bottles of water, two tonnes of food and a tonne of medical supplies to help the injured and the 140,000 people rendered homeless.
MSF offered significant mental health support to earthquake victims who were brought to the provincial capital, Srinagar, for medical treatment. Team members conducted mental health counselling at four area hospitals where people received medical care. MSF later extended its mental health program, offering both individual and group therapeutic activities for people in the districts of Tangdhar and Baramulla, areas strongly affected by the quake. A mobile medical clinic was launched in the Kupwara district, treating approximately 40 patients daily. MSF also trained community counsellors to provide mental health support for villagers during the winter months, when snow cut off remote areas from outside assistance.
These activities were carried out in addition to the mental healthcare MSF offers people living in Jammu-Kashmir state, a conflict-prone region claimed by both India and Pakistan. Working from various locations in and near Srinagar, in 2005 MSF aided approximately 1500 people with mental health problems related to the area’s tensions and conflict.
Providing care to the internally displaced
In the Karbi Anglong region of Assam state, ethnic violence forced 40,000 persons to flee to camps or shelters in towns and MSF began providing urgently needed assistance in October 2005. Malaria is an illness of concern in Assam and teams used artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat approximately 10,000 malaria patients a month. Mobile clinics are used to reach people in more than 50 camps, where MSF sees many children with respiratory infections, diarrhoea and malnourishment. In early 2006, MSF carried out a measles vaccination campaign in the camps, trucked in clean water and installed taps on water tanks.
MSF is also active in neighbouring Manipur state, operating four primary healthcare clinics in the district of Churachanpur and a clinic to treat people with sexually transmitted infections. Because of the state’s high rate of HIV infection, in March 2006, MSF began integrating HIV/AIDS care into the state’s existing health program. By mid-year, 200 patients were receiving care from MSF, including antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Another HIV/AIDS project opened in Mumbai to help patients excluded from the national care program and those co-infected with TB. As of June 2006, 124 patients were receiving comprehensive care including 47 using ARVs.
Following the 2004 tsunami, MSF provided aid to survivors in the southern region of Tamil Nadu. Working in 28 coastal villages, the team provided psychological counselling to a total of 770 people (5600 sessions), handing these activities over to a local partner organization in December 2005. Prior to this handover, MSF assisted people affected by flooding in the region in November, distributing 3000 blankets and providing 1300 consultations to the affected population.
In June 2005, MSF handed over a six-yearlong tuberculosis (TB) program in Mumbai to local health authorities and redirected its attention to the care of TB patients co-infected with HIV/AIDS.
MSF has worked in India since 1999.