MSF increases relief efforts on west coast of Banda Aceh

In addition to its mobile medical teams in Banda Aceh, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) yesterday also brought a mobile clinic to the remote costal town of Lhok Timon. The team was dropped by the MSF helicopter,with materials for medical consultations. They also brought 120 kilos of riceto a population of 1,500 people, who for five consecutive days have been living on coconuts and bananas.

This is the region closest to the epicentre of the December 26 earthquake and tsunami that has devasted the coastlines of countries in the Bay of Bengal. According to the MSF team,the population is living in appalling conditions, with around 20 families to a hut and people being forced to use plastic bags for additional shelter.

MSF will drop a water and sanitation team plus a medical team in Lhok Timon inthecomingdays,as well as further medical teams in other locations along the western coast.

Meanwhile, the mobile clinics in Banda Aceh continue. On Saturday, two teams provided 293 consultations for people left homeless by the tsunami in three different sites. The main three pathologies were wounds (bruises,burns and cuts often infected after the delay in treatment), respiratory tract infections and skin diseases (a common phenomenon where people huddle together under poor conditions).

One 15-year old boy's leg was so infected after injury that MSF immediately transported him to a hospital in Banda Aceh for further treatment. His sister, who had brought him to the MSF team, travelled with him.

An MSF psychologist also organized a one hour session in which 15 people received supportin dealing with their traumatic experiences. All people treated by MSF had experienced mental trauma.

MSF staff in Banda Aceh

International staff : 16

National staff : 20-25