Kuala Lumpur, 5 October 2018…As the impact and devastation from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Palu and Donggala on 28 September slowly unravels, MERCY Malaysia steps up its response with a three-pronged approach to provide shelter, food and medical services. 11 team members are on the ground at Palu, consisting of medical practitioners and technical experts, working with local partner PKPU Human Initiative.
The static clinic established in Silae, Palu, received almost 50 patients within its two hours of operations yesterday. The clinic, which offered Primary Health Care and wound care, also provided counselling and medical advice on safety and communicable diseases in light of the unsanitary conditions following the tsunami.
Many of the villagers are afraid to go home, shares medical officer Dr Jasmine Avaxxx, so they are camping out in tents or makeshift tarpaulin tents. With widespread destruction as far as the eye can see, the villagers affected try to stay positive by not thinking of their losses and cracking jokes, such as eating too much Indomeeand sleeping under the stars.
Living conditions and transportation remain challenging, with food and non-food items taking 18-20 hours to arrive at Palu from Makassar. MERCY Malaysia has started distributing out tarpaulin sheets today, and assessments have begun for the building of transit Rumah Senyum.
Apart from providing medical assistance, the clinic will also help in collating data on disease prevalence, and provide surveillance data to the local health authorities. This is to monitor the possibility of outbreaks in water-borne or infectious diseases.
After travelling by road for days, the MERCY Malaysia relief teams arrived at Donggala, one of areas that was worst-hit in the earthquake and tsunami last Saturday that has claimed over 1,800 lives and left over 71,000 people homeless in Central Sulawesi.
The team arrived early this morning to a scene of massive destruction, with over 66,000 houses razed to the ground and people sleeping out in tents. Tensions are high, as many of the villages have not had any food or water in the last few days. Clean water supply is currently being supplied by NGOs or public buildings such as mosques, but supplies are fast depleting.
Upon arrival at Donggala, the medical volunteers sorted out the medications and other supplies, while other team members attended coordination meetings with the Indonesian Emergency Response and Assessment Team and Indonesia’s disaster relief agency, Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana.
The team also surveyed sites at Talisa, Silae, Ulu Jadi and Kota Palu to assess the most pressing needs in the area. Food supplies, temporary shelter and hygiene kits are some of the primary concerns, apart from medical care.
“People are still in a daze and traumatised by the incidents,” says Norazam Ab Samah, Executive council member of MERCY Malaysia and team leader of the Palu/Donggala humanitarian response. “We have to stay focused on our tasks at hand so as not to feel overwhelmed by the general sense of sadness around.”
Apart from transportation, price hikes in basic necessities are main challenges in providing relief aid to the communities affected.
A food pack which contains cooking oil, rice, sugar, biscuits, salt and other dry rations cost RM170 for a family of four, while shelter kits with mats, blankets, mosquito repellent, nails and a tarpaulin sheet costs RM420. Hygiene kits consisting of underwear, sanitary napkins, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving kit, nail cutter and soap would cost RM180.
“We urgently appeal for donations from caring Malaysians to help the people affected. Every bit will make a difference, so no amount is too small,” urges Norazam. Donations can be made to Palu Relief Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) on Malaysia’s website www.www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.
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