MSF provides sanitary assistance to victims of earthquake

Lima - Volunteers of the international humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are working in the Departments of Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna in Peru, to assist the victims of last Saturday's earthquake. The teams, made up of medical staff and water and sanitation specialists, are focusing their efforts to respond to most urgent medical needs of people living in rural areas and the most affected urban areas.

"In small communities, adobe houses have collapsed and people live in the street, without shelter and no access to drinkable water," says Peter Meurrens, medical co-ordinator of the team in the Department of Moquegua. "This situation can lead to an increase of acute respiratory infections and acute diarrhoea diseases in the coming days."

The population affected by the earthquake is also experiencing psychological reactions such as fear, anxiety or sadness, which are normal reactions in the aftermath of a natural disaster. To avoid more serious post-traumatic stress disorders, a team of MSF psychologists will implement a psychological support programme.

"We'll train a network of medical staff and teachers to duplicate counselling activities, so that people feel supported and can overcome the situation," explains Barbara Laumont, co-ordinator of MSF's psychological programme. A cargo with 31 tones of relief items, coming from Europe, will land this afternoon in Arequipa.

It includes drugs, medical material, tents, plastic sheeting, blankets, and water and sanitation material. A nurse, a logistician and a water and sanitation specialist will arrive with the cargo to strengthen the teams already working in the area. At the time of the earthquake, MSF was already present in Peru running different medical programmes. In Satipo, the organisation runs a project to improve diagnosis and treatment of cutaneous and muco-cutaneous Leishmaniasis.

In Lima, teams run various HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programmes. At the end of this month, MSF will end a six-year project to improve access to healthcare for indigenous and mestizo populations who live along Ucayali river in Pucallpa region.