Monday, May 12, 2008

Medecins Sans Frontieres response to cyclone in Myanmar

Events are moving quickly in Myanmar, and although it is only a few days since my last update I hope this further information will be of interest.

The 43 expatriate staff and over 1,200 national staff that were working in Myanmar when the cyclone hit are starting to reach the most devastated areas to assess the situation, and provide much needed supplies and medical assistance. There are now just over 100 Médecins Sans Frontières staff in the delta region, and between 10 and 20 new staff arriving in this area each day.

The teams in the area have now received 150 metric tonnes of rice, 100,000 cans of fish, 250,000 oral rehydration sachets, 20,000 sachets of therapeutic food, and 17,000 plastic sheets, much of which has already been distributed. Médecins Sans Frontières medical staff have so far conducted over 1,700 medical consultations, around half of which have been for people wounded as a result of the cyclone; the rest for diarrhoea, fever and respiratory tract infections.

In Haigyi, in the south western corner of the delta, teams estimate they have distributed supplies to more than 50,000 people and addressed some of the water and sanitation issues in this area.

As you may have heard, gaining entry to Myanmar can be difficult and we are still in the process of arranging visas for additional staff to assist in the disaster affected areas. I would like to assure you however, that even without these extra resources, the team we already have in Myanmar has been responding with around-the-clock activity since the cyclone struck just over a week ago, and will continue to do so.

Over the weekend, Médecins Sans Frontières sent three cargo planes from Europe with a total of 110 metric tonnes of supplies including tents, medical material and drugs, pumps and generators for water and sanitation activities, and ready-to-use therapeutic food. The first plane received clearance to land Monday morning, and the Médecins Sans Frontières team will be on site to ensure delivery.

Since my update last week, many generous Field Partners have offered an additional gift towards our work and we are extremely grateful for this. Although much of the world’s attention is on Myanmar at the moment, all of our other work continues on our 400 programs in 60 countries around the world.

If you are able to make a gift in addition to your regular Field Partner contributions, it will be received warmly by everyone who works with Médecins Sans Frontières and the people whom our work assists.

To make a donation please visit: or call 1300 136 061 today.

Thank you again.

Yours sincerely,

Philippe Couturier
Executive Director
Médecins Sans Frontières Australia

PS. To give you some idea of the impact gifts from our supporters can have: $75 can provide clean drinking water to more than 1000 people for one week; $200 can supply medicine for basic medical treatment for more than 100 people; and $500 can provide a medical kit containing basic drugs, supplies, equipment and dressings.

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