July 14, 1998 — The situation of the 5.2 million people affected by the recent severe flooding in Guangxi Province is becoming more critical every day. According to Dr. Marcel Roux Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Medical Coordinator in China, "the situation is much worse than what I saw in Guangxi [after the floods] two years ago as the rains came earlier this year and wiped out almost 100% of this year's rice harvest in the worst affected counties". MSF currently estimates the total number of homeless at 480,000. Another 98,000 people are still cut off from the outside world in Tengxian County.
MSF is planning to assist the affected population by supplying essential drugs for 1.3 million people and by providing tarpaulin for temporary shelters for the homeless, following a request for outside assistance from the Provincial Ministry of Civil Affair. The drugs will be distributed through mobile medical teams. MSF will also supply both the township and the country hospitals with essential medicine.
MSF is particularly worried about restoring access to safe drinking water. "The faster we can move on water and shelter the less chances we have of seeing dysentery and other diseases spread" said Dr. Roux as MSF started on the distribution of 75 tons of chlorine.
MSF has sent a medical team to Guangxi specialized in disaster relief activities. Dr. Roux and his team are working in the worst affected counties of Cangwu, Tengxian, Pingnang, Guiping and the city of Wuzhou, handling the procurement, transportation as well as monitoring distribution of much-needed antibiotics, tarpaulin and supervising the chlorination of the water supply.
MSF has been working in Guangxi with the Public Health Bureau for close to three years, running a pilot public health program to train village doctors and to rehabilitate 5 township hospitals. MSF is also working in water and sanitation in Guangxi.
MSF is the world's largest independent emergency medical relief organization, providing aid to victims of armed conflict, natural and man-made disasters, and epidemic diseases.