Besides the famine, refugees are threatened by measles and a cholera epidemic

by Sven Ramones,  2011/08/29

“Dollo Ado in the south of Ethiopia is a town close to the Somalian border. Over the last few months ten thousands of desperate people have been longing to reach this destination. They came here in order to escape the consequences of the drought in their home country Somalia.

The Melkadida refugee camp in the south of Ethiopia is one of the locations where humedica offers help. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

From Dollo Addo they passed a registering camp and a transit camp and then they arrived at one of the four large refugee camps that are located by the road that leads northwards through the desert. One of these camps is the Melkadida Refugee Camp, where during the past few weeks humedica has been offering urgently needed medical aid to refugees.

Most of the people who come to Melkadida are destitute. On their flight from hunger and violent riots in Somalia, they had to leave behind all their belongings. Some of them have been living at the camp for more than one year. They fled in the wake of fights and war in their own country.

Others were forced to leave their homes by the drought and the resulting famine. They came to Melkadida only now. No one knows how long they are going to stay. The camp is a city of tents. Heat, dryness, and a burning, omnipresent dust cause living circumstances at Melkadida to be particularly difficult. And there seems to be no end to the rows of white tents that are standing close together.

Almost 40,000 persons have found shelter at Melkadida. They are living under simplest conditions of what they have left in their lives. Thanks to food distributions at the camp, they can at least meet their most basic needs in order to survive. Many of the people living here are ill.

Therefore, together with local medical staff, our humedica mission team around Dr Mechthild Wortmann, Dr Heinrich Laube and Dr Anja Fröhlich is currently busy offering urgently needed medical aid to the camp’s needy inhabitants.

Dr Heiner Lauber is treating a patient. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

About one hundred patients per day queue up in front of the humedica treatment rooms. Besides working at an emergency room and an outpatient station, the three internists are also offering their services at a paediatric ward and with treating patients at the in-patient ward.

The most frequent diseases the people living at the camp are suffering from are skin diseases, gastro-intestinal diseases, eye infections and helminthiasis. But our doctors not only treat those illnesses that are typical under the living circumstances prevailing at a refugee camp.

Among children and infants, who are often weakened by illness and fever, we often encounter cases of severe undernutrition. These little patients need special attention and care, and by means of tube-feed nourishment and special food they are carefully brought back to life.

Until lately, the people at the refugee camp were threatened by a spreading measles epidemic. Fortunately, the epidemic could be curbed by means of camp-wide vaccination campaigns. But another threat is already looming:

another wave of Somalian refugees is expected to arrive at the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Since there have been cases of cholera in several regions of the country, there now is the concern that refugees could bring the disease to the camps and that an epidemic could spread.

In order to be prepared for this possibility, the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) contacted humedica and asked for support with a cholera treatment programme. They said they decided to address humedica, since after the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Haiti last year humedica had a lot of valuable experience with effectively fighting the life-threatening disease.

For patients who are already weakened by undernutrition, also relatively harmless illnesses can have severe consequences. And then there is the threat of a cholera epidemic that needs to be fought. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

Medical care for the inhabitants of Melkadida will also be expanded by means of establishing an additional humedica health station on the camp grounds. This is to facilitate access to medical treatment for more of the camp’s inhabitants.

Another objective of humedica is to optimise treatment quality for patients. To this end, we are planning to offer and implement special training and further training measures to local nursing staff. Furthermore, we are going to provide drugs and medical commodities to the local Health Centre, in order to grant long-term provision with necessary materials.

For the people at the Melkadida camp this help means that they are not left completely alone in their difficult situation. They know that there is someone who will be at their side when they need help. Thank you for setting this example together with us and for continuing to do so by means of your donation.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Famine relief Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a safe, fast and simple way by means of sending a text message: simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica relief projects.

Thank you very much and kind regards from Ethiopia.

Yours faithfully,
Sven Ramones”

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