UK-Med Responds to Cyclone Freddy

UK-Med has been tasked by the UK Government to send an assessment team to Malawi to evaluate the medical aid needed to treat the wounded and sick following Cyclone Freddy.

Beginning on 21st February 2023, and lasting four days, Cyclone Freddy, the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record, has caused devastation across Southern East Africa, particularly in Malawi and Mozambique.

In Malawi alone, nearly 508,244 people have been affected, with 499 deaths and 427 people reported missing. In response, Malawi’s President, Mr Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a state-of-disaster in several southern districts.

In the aftermath of a large-scale natural disaster, assessing existing capacities and the extent of damage is crucial for managing the healthcare needs of the population and allocating resources appropriately. The assessment team will evaluate health facilities, collaborate with key local and external partners to identify humanitarian gaps and access to health services, as well as assess capacity for patient referrals in disaster-affected areas.

With an ongoing cholera epidemic in Malawi, the situation is even more critical as the loss of shelter and displacement of thousands could lead to a spike in cholera infections, overwhelming an already strained health system.

Photo credit: Andy Kent

Catherine Smith, UK-Med Team Leader who is flying to Malawi from UK-Med’s field hospital in Turkey says, “Cyclone Freddy is worsening a growing humanitarian crisis in Malawi, a country which before Freddy, was experiencing its deadliest cholera outbreak.

“Flood waters and landslides over the last few days will hamper access to safe water and sanitation, which could intensify the situation further.

Our priority is therefore to conduct an urgent needs-based assessment of the affected areas, coordinate with the Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation and local authorities, map and analyse current and expected gaps and advise the FCDO on an appropriate response.

Overall, our aim will be to support an overwhelmed system and treat those affected.”

We’ll post more updates from the team on our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) as the response develops.

We’re grateful to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for UK Aid funding from the British people to fund this important response.

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