India: Epic floods engulf the state of Orissa

  • International staff: 17
  • National staff: 16 MSF work in India over the last year was marked by devastating floods. A cyclone that struck India's Orissa state in October 1999 left at least 10,000 people dead, and many thousands more without shelter, food or medical facilities. To prevent the spread of disease, MSF set up a surveillance and early warning system, later maintained in cooperation with the Orissa Health Service and Epicentre. MSF also provided medical care, water and sanitation facilities and shelter to some of the victims. Fighting tuberculosis in crowded Mumbai Since 1998, MSF has been part of the struggle against tuberculosis (TB) in Mumbai (Bombay), where 9,000 people die of the disease each year. In this densely populated city, home to 15 million people, TB poses a special threat if left undetected or untreated. MSF works with the local health authorities as a technical advisor and implementing partner for a pilot project using the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short Course) method, which requires direct supervision of patients while they take their medicine. Work (including upgrading laboratories, training health workers and sensitizing the private health sector) focuses on an area of about 570,000 people at the southern tip of the city. Improving mental health in Jammu and Kashmir In summer 2000, MSF began financing a community health project conducted by the Voluntary Health Association (VHA) in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. MSF also began to support a mental health program in the region, where decades of violence have taken a toll on the psychological well-being of the population. The project, which will train grassroots counselors and general practitioners and work to increase the coping skills of the population, will also be carried out in cooperation with the VHA. MSF hopes to begin a malaria program in Assam in late 2000.