MSF working with Japanese authorities to help many suffering effects of quake. As access improves in the region devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunamis in northeast Japan, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is finding serious needs among pockets of people living in areas previously impossible to reach by road. MSF currently has 10 people divided into three teams conducting mobile clinics and assessments in Miyagi prefecture, following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunamis last Friday. The tsunamis have decimated coastal areas which, after extensive efforts by Japanese authorities, are now becoming accessible by road. “In one area around Minamisunriku, in northern Miyagi, we were told by officials there were 9,200 people in 20 evacuation centres who needed water, non-food items and medical attention,” says Mikiko Dotsu, coordinator of the MSF teams.

Japan © JIJI PRESS Houses destroyed by a tsunami in Kesen numa city, Miyagi prefecture.

Although injured people had been evacuated by helicopter, there were a lot of elderly people, some of whom were dehydrated. “The chronic diseases of some of these elderly people are a cause for concern,” says Dotsu. MSF is now identifying specific needs – including oxygen, non-food items, medical items and water – and will work with Japanese authorities to provide aid to people in need. More MSF staff in Japan and other countries are standing by, ready to go to Miyagi prefecture to increase MSF’s assistance. MSF continues to monitor the situation around Fukushima nuclear power plants. If there is a serious nuclear incident, it is only the Japanese government that will be in a position to react.