Myanmar: Three Months after Cyclone Nargis, MSF Still Providing Assistance

It has been more than three months since Cyclone Nargis wreaked devastation throughout Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta, and many survivors remain vulnerable and traumatized. Numerous nongovernmental organizations are now active on the ground and able to provide adequate assistance. Meanwhile, basic reconstruction is taking place in a number of areas.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to provide approximately 450,000 people with basic health care through fixed and mobile clinics. No disease outbreaks have been reported, however, cases of diarrhea and respiratory tract infection remain frequent. And while severe acute malnutrition in children under 5 remains very low—less than one percent—MSF has found a disturbing number of children in that age group at risk of malnutrition in the areas of Bogaley, Setsu, and Pyapon. MSF is giving therapeutic food supplements to the moderately malnourished and to other vulnerable groups, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, while closely monitoring the nutrition situation.

Increasingly, MSF is also focused on psychosocial care to treat anxiety and depression, which staff often witness among survivors, and continues to train community health workers and counsellors to assist traumatized survivors.

MSF is involved in water and sanitation activities, including pumping and cleaning water sources, distributing water containers, and constructing latrines, and distributing basic, non-food items, including family kits, mosquito nets, buckets, tool kits, blankets, and a one-time money distribution to those who have been told they must leave two displaced persons camps in Labutta.

As the emergency phase comes to a close, MSF expects by the end of the year to hand over all Nargis-related program activities to other aid organizations. After the handover, MSF will remain in the country working as before the cyclone, responding to the vital medical needs of the people, which are largely unmet by either the government or other assistance.