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MSF in Indonesia, 2006
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The December 2004 tsunami continued to define MSF action in Indonesia throughout the second half of 2005, with medical activities centerd mainly, but not exclusively, in Aceh.
Photo © Jodi Bieber
MSF was one of the first international aid organizations to reach Aceh after the tsunami and at its peak was running projects in eight districts. These addressed a wide range of emergency medical needs with vaccinations, mobile clinics, mental health programs, surgery and the distribution of non-food items.
By the end of the year, the health situation in Aceh had returned to pre-tsunami levels and MSF programs decreased accordingly. By this stage, MSF had rehabilitated 27 health structures, a hospital and almost 300 wells; conducted over 40,000 medical consultations and provided over 2000 individual counselling sessions. Over the course of the year, MSF had been reorienting its programs, placing more emphasis on reaching out to inland communities whose access to healthcare had been restricted by years of civil war and reinforcing its mental health care for these, as well as victims of the tsunami. Today, MSF maintains a more streamlined but just as committed team in Aceh, focusing on mental health in three districts with a particular focus on working with people affected by conflict. The team performs surgery in Sigli hospital and provides primary healthcare to a population of approximately 475,000 through clinics, training, drug donation and health promotion.
Across the rest of Indonesia, MSF continued to respond to outbreaks of disease, including malaria in Alor and measles in Sumba, and further developed its tuberculosis project in Ambon. In 2006 MSF’s emergency capacity in Indonesia was stretched as teams used boat, plane and foot to reach people affected by simultaneous epidemics of cholera and measles in the remote island of Papua. This island has some of the worst health indicators for the whole of Indonesia, with a high burden of infectious disease and communities living out of reach of even basic healthcare. Mobile teams were still operating in the Asmat area, where MSF vaccinated over 13,500 children for measles. Here MSF is offering measles follow-up care and addressing other health needs.
MSF was just closing its cholera program in Papua when the June 2006 earthquake hit Java’s cultural capital, Yogyakarta. Emergency team members flew straight from Papua to Yogyakarta, with the first members arriving on the same day as the earthquake and trucks filled with emergency supplies soon to follow. Although the majority of needs were swiftly covered by Indonesian emergency services, hospitals were overwhelmed. An MSF surgical team worked alongside other Indonesian and international teams to help clear the backlog of patients waiting for surgery, and a tented 100-bed, post-operative ward was assembled to ease overcrowding in the hospitals and provide quality post-operative care to patients from all over the city. Psychologists offering training to Indonesian medical staff and counselling those traumatised by the earthquake continue to work in the region.
MSF has worked in Indonesia since 1995.