With post-quake aid in Bam, Iran, mental health care develops
8 January 2004
In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that struck the city of Bam, Iran, on December 26, the survivors remain in need of assistance, with the focus shifting to the psychological impact that follows such a traumatic event. There are over 30,000 dead with another 30,000 injured. Over 10,000 have been evacuated for hospitalisation elsewhere in the country. There are some 45,000 people left homeless now and the number will increase to 75,000 when the people start to return to their homes. Many people immediately left Bam to stay with relatives elsewhere. The city is destroyed. 25,000 building were levels - 85% of the city - including the two hospitals that served the region. In order the manage the emergency, the government has divided Bam into sectors from 1 to 12, with each province of the country responsible for a sector. The government has mobilized the general population to intervene in various fields because the constant daily needs of the survivors - and in particular, psychological assistance. For approximately one week now, psychology instruction has begun, coordinated by psychologists and psychiatrists, with a specific protocol; to encourage people to talk about and express what happened on Friday December 26. The accounts are if moving, following this so disastrous situation, and MSF is evaluating the likelihood of opening a mental health programme. In the meantime, MSF is continuing with primary health care instruction in the camp organized by Bafia. Families are still arriving gradually in the hope of finding more assistance. MSF organized a distribution of 5,000 hygiene kits in collaboration with the Red Crescent, and shall soon begin a sanitation program in the old Citadel quarter , sector number two which is unfortunately poor and densely populated.