Almost one week after a severe earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra, rescue operations are coming to an end and the search for survivors has been stepped down. But relief operations will continue, focusing on assisting the thousands of people that have lost their homes and loved ones and are now living in very harsh conditions. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent emergency teams and relief materials to the area of the disaster. Almost 50 staff, including doctors, kidney specialists, surgeons, nurses, psychologists and logisticians, both international and Indonesian, are now on the ground. In addition, a cargo plane with 43 tonnes of material, including medical kits, drugs, logistical and relief materials arrived in Padang this Wednesday morning.
After assessing the affected region to identify the most urgent needs, MSF teams are starting mobile clinics in some of the hardest hit locations. This means mainly the rural areas surrounding the city of Pariaman, where the level of destruction is particularly high, and the area south of Padang, a region that has received little emergency aid so far. These clinics will provide critically needed primary healthcare to those affected, many of whom are now living in the open. Additionally, MSF psychologists will offer psychosocial support to those traumatized by the disaster. In the area surrounding Pariaman, several villages were almost totally destroyed by landslides, and access is still very difficult. In other locations, almost all houses have been partly or totally destroyed by the quake. In support to people who have lost almost everything, MSF is starting the distribution of essential goods such as plastic sheeting, while also evaluating the need for hygiene and cooking kits. As most infrastructure was destroyed in some villages, MSF specialists are also assessing what water and sanitation needs may exist and need to be covered.