From the field: David Anderson

Cyclone Idai affected 1.85 million people, including 1 million children. The death toll was reported as 602 people but owing to the extremely rural environment and the impact on communication this is likely to have been under-reported. There were also over 1,600 people who were injured and 239,682 houses have been either totally destroyed, partially destroyed or flooded, with an estimated 160,927 people sheltering in 64 temporary sites across affected areas.

One of our register members David Anderson deployed to Mozambique to assist in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.  His deployment was facilitated by UK-Med as a part of our commitment to support SAVE the Children International with additional staff in their Mozambique deployment. Read his story below:

My name is David Anderson and I deployed with SAVE the Children International to Mozambique, post Cyclone Idai, thanks to a recommendation by UK-Med. I was based in Beira covering the district of Sofala as Clinical Lead for the Emergency Health Units in that district. This was to lead 8 mobile health clinics in rural locations throughout Sofala District.

As well as the immediate impact on health needs in the district of Sofala, there were 6,500 cases of cholera reported with 8 deaths. The incidence of cholera was dramatically reduced following WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and Oral Cholera Vaccine interventions. The cyclone and subsequent flooding had a massive impact on infrastructure including roads and bridges, resulting in severe challenges to reach remote populations, where the 8 mobile clinics were to be situated.

There was, and remains, a huge health need associated to Cyclones Idai and Kenneth. There is also a high prevalence of malaria in the region and basic health provision not being met. What little health facilities did exist outside of the city of Beira itself were hugely affected, either destroyed or rendered almost impossible to use.

The 8 clinics were setup and run in remote and difficult to reach areas of Sofala. Each clinic initially had 8 clinicians and was open from 10am to 4pm, due to logistical difficulties and day light working, as there was no power or running water. The clinics were seeing 150-200 patients in 5-6 hours daily and this covered a huge variety of conditions from low level primary health care to malaria and pre and post maternal health. Each clinic ran appointments relating to Sexual and Reproductive Health, Nutrition Screening (MUAC) and Education, consultation for general presentations, pharmacy and malaria screening and treatment – including issuing of malaria nets to those at high risk.

These clinics were initially very challenging to setup as there was a degree of difficulty getting consent from the local landowners, and establishing a water supply which could be de-contaminated. There were also significant issues in reaching the target population as the “dirt road” network was destroyed. However the staff and volunteers from the local communities managed to establish the best possible way of doing this in such a resource poor environment.

Mozambique is a beautiful country which clearly has significant health care services issues, with an extremely rural and poor population which has little or no access in large areas to health care. The local population and staff have a real drive to improve their situation and it was a privilege to have worked within these communities to help deliver some rudimentary healthcare and education.

Buzi Hospital after Cyclone Idai

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