Teams continue north to find others in need. Continuing its response to last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, on Wednesday a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team of 12 people established an operational base in Tome, in northern Miyagi prefecture. The team split into three groups. One group of two people continued to work with local doctors in evacuation centres in Minami Sanriku and another MSF team of two people went to Oshima Island, just off the coast, where they worked in two evacuation centres. They were the first medical personnel to come to the island and saw around 40 patients, most of whom had lost their medications for their chronic diseases.

The third MSF team went further north into Miyagi prefecture, assessed needs in Kesennuma town and found that Japanese medical teams were present.

The majority of medical consultations were with elderly patients with chronic diseases. Many of them were running out of medications for hypertension and diabetes. The weather in the area was bad overnight, with snow and sub-zero temperatures; a few cases of hypothermia were seen. Staff also saw patients with respiratory tract infections, possibly due to the crowded conditions in some of the evacuation centres.

Flooded houses and driftwood near Sendai city in Miyagi prefecture. Photo taken: March 12, 2011

© JIJI Press
Houses and rubbles were washed away by the earthquake and tsunami near Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture. Photo taken: March 12, 2011 MSF has ordered 25,000 blankets from a supply base in Dubai that should arrive in the next few days. Another 5,000 blankets were purchased in Tokyo and will be delivered by Sunday.

On Thursday two mobile MSF teams continued to work in evacuation centres around Minami Sanriku. A third team returned to different areas around Kesennuma and a fourth team went further north to find other people in need of medical assistance.

In Tokyo, MSF’s emergency coordination team has been working on getting food donations for people in evacuation centres. They are also trying to procure donations of water that can be taken by truck up to the affected area, as access to these areas has improved.   More information: MSF general director Eric Ouannes in Tokyo talks about MSF's response to the disasters in Japan.