MSF provides medical care, food and improves access to clean water in worst affected areas of Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta

MSF is intensifying its response, with teams providing emergency assistance in some of the areas most affected by Cyclone Nargis. MSF teams are providing food, basic relief items, and medical care, and are improving access to clean water. A first cargo plane carrying 40 metric tons of relief supplies and medical materials left Europe yesterday for Yangon, Myanmar(Burma) and is due to arrive today.

Wounds and diarrhoea

In the southwest of the Irrawady Delta, MSF is supporting the hospital of Pathein (Bassein). To the south of Pathein, MSF has so far done several hundred consultations in Haigyi, Pyinsalu and Tongwa, about half of which were for cyclone-related injuries while the majority of the rest were for diarrhoea, fever and respiratory infections.

MSF teams are using two boats to reach the most affected areas on both sides of the Bassein River. With teams set up in Haigyi, Tongwa, and Pyinsalu, MSF is in the process of expanding to other villages. MSF teams have seen many dead bodies, but it is difficult to give an estimate of how many people have died. There are a huge number of flattened houses and other structures and much of the area remains flooded. This is posing problems in finding suitable places to set up facilities to provide medical consultations.

So far, nine truckloads of supplies have gone to Pathein (Bassein), including 14,000 pieces of plastic sheeting, 62 tons of rice, as well as oil, fish and therapeutic food. Most of these supplies have gone south on boats to Haigyi and other project areas.

As of yesterday there is about 70 MSF staff working in this area, with many more on their way from MSF’s established projects in other parts of the country.

Acute needs in Bogalay

Further East, in Twantey township three MSF teams have distributed food rations (rice, oil, beans, fish) to 3,000 people who lost all their belongings in the cyclone. MSF is carrying out medical consultations in places where homeless have sought refuge, such as pagodas and schools. MSF also rehabilitated latrines, wells, and water pumps.

Other MSF teams used boats to reach Bogaley, a district of 100,000 people which has been heavily hit by the cyclone. Thousands of people have been killed and many more are homeless. The hospital of Bogaley is still functioning but seven out of the eight health centres in the area have been destroyed. MSF has started distributing food and providing medical care to the people. Wells and water points are in need of repair as they have been contaminated, leading to a number of cases of diarrhoea.

Trucks with food, relief items and medical material for the hospital are on their way to Bogaley. MSF workers from other projects in the country are also coming to reinforce the team.

The MSF team is also heading further south to the Kungyangon area, which has a population of over 200,000.

In total, MSF has 43 international staff and over 1,200 national staff currently working in Myanmar. MSF also awaits the approval of dozens of visa applications for technical support staff and coordinators submitted to various embassies around the world.

A full charter plane – with 40 metric tonnes of medical supplies, plastic sheeting, therapeutic food, and water and sanitation equipment, flied yesterday at 4pm from Europe.

There are four further shipments of supplies ready to be dispatched to Myanmar, totalling 160 tons, including medical supplies, therapeutic food, plastic sheeting and water and sanitation equipment. They are ready to fly from Europe, Dubai and Jakarta. These cargos should leave in the next few days pending authorizations from the Myanmar (Burma) authorities. Current in-country supplies are limited and MSF’s activities cannot be sustained indefinitely without international cargo shipments.