MSF mobilises to complement Indonesian relief efforts

"Our priority is to get our aid into the hands of those who need it without any delay. We are helping to bridge the gap until a larger aid deployment can begin," said Emergency Coordinator, Dr Nathalie Civet.

Six days after an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale hit the island of Java, Indonesia, the latest official figures for the number of wounded has doubled to just over 46,000 injured, with over 30,000 people suffering from serious trauma.

National emergency services have been able to mobilize rapidly as they were already on standby with the recent threat of a volcanic eruption in the region, and local health workers have been able to treat the urgent cases efficiently. However patients are in need of proper post operative care and follow up, and many are still housed outside hospitals due to lack of space and fear of further aftershocks.

"As the hospitals were not damaged by the earthquake, they were rapidly able to stabilize patients and treat the most urgent cases," explained Fabrice Resongles, MSF head of mission in Java. "However there are still some patients in need of treatment: those who did not suffer from life threatening wounds, and whose condition was stabilized, but now may need an operation; and those with complicated wounds who were not treated due to shortages in specialized material."

In order to treat the wounded, an MSF surgical team is working Bedeseka (Yogyakarta) Hospital operating theatre, in collaboration with the Indonesian medical team. At the same time, a field hospital with a capacity of 150 beds is being set up as a referral centre for the four main hospitals in Yogyakarta.

The hospitals will be able to send patients who have already received a first treatment but need further hospitalization. This will relieve the case load on hospitals by increasing the hospitalization space, and will provide patients with proper post operative care. In addition to this, punctual donations of medical material have been carried out and, since Monday, two nephrologists (specialists in crush-syndrome) are providing support to health structures to identify and treat crush syndrome.

In the rural areas, MSF is carrying out mobile clinics to identify unmet needs, treat basic wounds and offer other basic medical care. A psychologist offers counseling to patients with psychosomatic complaints.

National emergency services have also mobilized to distribute relief items, such as tents, to families left homeless by the earthquake. Most people are staying in makeshift shelters next to their houses. However, there are still some gaps in the relief distributed, particularly for people living in the rural areas where aid is slower to arrive.

On June 1, MSF will receive another freight of relief supplies, 2,000 kitchen sets (10 tons) and will start distribution of non-food items in villages that have been heavily affected by the earthquake. The distribution to families includes hygiene items, blankets, soap, cooking pots, as well as tools necessary for basic construction and protection from the rain such as wood, hammers, nails and plastic sheeting.

"This will not be a massive distribution involving extensive assessments, coordination and days of planning," explains emergency coordinator Dr Nathalie Civet "Our priority is to get our aid into the hands of those who need it without any delay. We are helping to bridge the gap until a larger aid deployment can begin."