Five days after the Nargis cyclone hit Myanmar, MSF is continuing to offer emergency assistance to victims. MSF teams are providing food and basic relief items as well as medical care, and are improving access to clean water for people affected by the cyclone.
On Tuesday night, an MSF team travelled south from the city of Pathein, the capital of Ayeyarwady Division, and reached the southwestern tip of the Ayeyarwady Delta. The Ayeyarwaddy River bisects the country from north to south and empties through a nine-armed delta into the Indian Ocean.
Prior to the cyclone, the area's population was around 180,000 people. The team observed levels of 95 percent destruction of homes and everything else. It is impossible to estimate how many people had died so far.
Shortly after the team arrived, they were followed by boats carrying supplies including medical supplies, food and plastic sheeting. Teams have launched distributions of food and plastic sheeting and have started purifying water on both sides of the Pathein river. MSF medical staff are also offering consultations, of which around half have been for people wounded as a result of the cyclone.
There are currently around 35 MSF staff in the delta and another 40 are on the way. MSF is now trying to reach more villages in the delta following reports of extensive destruction throughout the area.
In addition, there are over 1,200 national staff currently working in Myanmar in this existing projects.
In Daala and Twantey, two townships south of Yangon, MSF teams saw an 80 percent destruction of houses in certain pockets and up to one meter of flood waters. In Twantey area, three MSF teams have distributed food rations (rice, oil, beans, fish) to 2,000 people. In addition 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 are assessing several locations further south in the Irrawady Delta by boat, including heavily hit Bogaley. In every affected location, they distribute food and provide medical care to the people. According to their daily assessments, trucks with additional relief items and food will follow shortly.
MSF will continue scaling up operations as quickly as possible but needs the government's support in order to reinforce the team with emergency experienced staff and import the necessary supplies. So far the government has shown a willingness to MSF to support its aid operations in response to the cyclone, but a much greater response is urgently needed and cannot happen without facilitation by the government.
In Myanmar, MSF also has four long running clinics in other townships of Yangon, focusing on maternal and child healthcare, sexually transmitted diseases (STI) and HIV/AIDS and has made all of these clinics available for anyone with health needs related to the cyclone.
MSF does more than one million consultations annually in Myanmar and last year treated more than 200,000 malaria cases. MSF is also treating more then 16,000 patients for HIV/AIDS, and has more than 8,000 patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART).
© Souheil Reiache /MSF
MSF teams have so far been able to assess all areas in the townships of Yangon, the country's biggest city, and are in the process of trying to assess areas outside Yangon that we suspect have been harder hit.
Human resource and cargo
In total, MSF has 43 international staff and over 1,200 national staff currently working in Myanmar.
A full charter - with 40 tonnes of medical material, plastic sheeting, water and sanitation material, and therapeutic food - is scheduled to depart from Bordeaux, France, on May 9.
There are four further shipments of supplies ready to be dispatched to Myanmar, totalling 160 MT, 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 authorities.