Dhaka - MSF medical teams are still fully operational in Mathbaria, in the south of the Pirojpur district, where they are carrying out 300 to 320 consultations per day. Teams are also continuing water and sanitation activities in Patuakhali district. However, the overall situation is improving as most of the population have now received some assistance. There are two MSF clinics in the main villages of Sapelzhat (45,000 inhabitants) and Betemore (28,000 inhabitants), while another two teams are circulating around the most affected areas, covering an average of five villages a week. MSF is focusing on the most vulnerable groups and most of the patients are children under five.
Consultations are related to diarrhoea, respiratory infections, skin and eye infection as well as infected cuts and minor ones. "A lot of people are still coming to our clinics because they have difficulties accessing health care, " explains MSF doctor Peter Reynaud in Mathbaria. "But there's been a lot of progress and the population seems to be coping with the situation. The electricity has been restored in most places and people have now started rebuilding their houses and are helping to clean the drinking water ponds." MSF has also stepped up its water and sanitation activities in Mathbaria, as the contamination of drinking water ponds during the cyclone has been a major source of disease.
The work is tailored to the specific needs of each village and involves cleaning water sources, fixing sand-filters, or setting shallow tube-wells. Patients and their families also receive a week's supply of water purification tablets. Water and sanitation work also continues along the coast in the district of Patuakhali. MSF is fixing or replacing around 20 tube wells in schools and villages in Galachipa. Meanwhile the teams are finalising the distribution of basic necessities in the area.
Nearly 4000 kits containing blankets, water containers and clothes were delivered by boat to the population. The area was hit hard by the cyclone and difficult access to the islands slowed down the relief effort. By now, however, most people have received assistance there too. "The emergency is phasing out, and the pockets of people who haven't received any help are diminishing" explained MSF Field Coordinator in Galachipa, Tony Marchant. "Agencies specialised in development are now coming in order to address long term issues such as rehabilitation, food and long term water and sanitation programmes."