Brazil: MSF Responds to Floods

In response to severe floods and landslides, MSF is mobilizing two teams to run mobile clinics north of Rio de Janeiro.

Since January 11, torrential rains in Brazil have been causing severe flooding in the mountainous region north of Rio de Janeiro. More than 630 people are estimated to have been killed in the flooding and resulting landslides, while thousands have been left homeless. After an assessment in the most affected areas, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is mobilizing two medical teams to run mobile clinics in São José do Vale do Rio Preto and Nova Friburgo.

In São José do Vale do Rio Preto, an estimated 10,000 people have been affected by the floods and more than 1,200 people have been displaced. In Nova Friburgo, one of the most affected towns, more than 5,000 people are believed to be displaced or homeless.

The teams—each with one doctor, one psychologist, and one nurse or nurse assistant—will travel to affected and isolated areas where people have not been able to access health care as of yet. The mobile teams will also provide mental health support to relatives of the victims, people left homeless or displaced, and local health workers.

“It has been raining continuously and access to the affected areas is difficult,” said Sergio Cabral, an MSF doctor participating in the assessment. “Some roads have been completely blocked by huge mudslides.”

Despite the vast mobilization from the public and other organizations to provide assistance to people affected by the floods, the aid is still not enough to cover all the needs, especially in the most remote areas. In São José do Vale do Rio Preto, the population has received virtually no help and most of the health care facilities are not functioning. “We also found a dire need for mental health support in the affected areas, both for the victims and for health workers who have been trying to cope with this disaster,” Cabral added.