Aid, health workers race to help Mozambique cyclone victims
International aid agencies and government forces are racing against time to help the hundreds of thousands affected by Cyclone Idai.
The storm, which hit on March 14, has killed nearly 1,000 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and many others are still missing.
One of the worst affected areas is the port city of Beira, along Mozambique’s coast. More than 150,000 displaced persons from three neighboring areas around Beira are being sheltered in the city.
The international medical aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) said Monday that thousands of families are still struggling to find food, shelter and health care services, and remain at high risk to contract illnesses such as cholera and malaria.
“At first, we were treating up to 200 patients a day in just one cholera treatment unit,” said Quezia Monteiro, an MSF infectious diseases specialist. To date, MSF and Ministry of Health teams have treated more than 3,400 cholera patients in the flood-affected region.
MSF has provided logistical, technical and planning support to the Ministry of Health for a cholera vaccination campaign in the remote town of Buzi, as well as in Dondo, Mafambisse, Matua and Tica.
MSF also helped local health officials distribute mosquito nets, soap and chlorine solution to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.
“The importance of health care is undeniable, but dignity is also key,” said Joaquim Guinart, MSF’s project coordinator in Buzi. “In the days after we distributed soap and chlorine solution … one woman thanked me, saying she had not been able to wash clothes in the three weeks since the cyclone,” he said.
Beira mayor Daviz Simango told VOA that everyone there has a role to play in the rebuilding effort.
“We are going to rebuild the city. Your hands will also help to rebuild the city. So, I think they will be useful to us.”
But in nearly a month since Cyclone Idai destroyed their world, survivors see no end in sight to the many problems caused by the storm.
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