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Indonesia’s Quake-Ravaged Health Services – UN

Urgent Aid Needed To Restore Indonesia’s Quake-Ravaged Health Services – UN

New York, Nov 20 2009 4:10PM Hospitals, clinics and other health services for thousands of Indonesians need urgent aid after two earthquakes ravaged west Sumatra in September, with the goal of enabling them to better withstand future emergencies, the United Nations health agency said today.

Some 1.2 million people live in the three districts worst affected by the quakes, which killed over 1,100 people, injured some 3,500 others and destroyed or damaged more than 360 health facilities, mainly around the city of Padang.

“It is really sad to see that health centres and hospitals collapse in times of natural disasters, a time when they are most needed to provide services to people who are injured and people that have suffered,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said during a visit yesterday to the Mohammed Djamil Hospital, the main health facility in Padang, which was severely damaged.

“We are already talking about plans for the reconstruction and retrofitting of essential health facilities. I would like to say once more that it is important for us to pay attention to build strong, robust health facilities,” she added, praising the “very prompt” Government response to the disaster and the aid offered by development partners, including UN agencies.

“I would like to again appeal to partners, governments that this kind of investment in health facilities will pay good dividends on your investment. The people will thank you for what you have done to protect their health.”

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The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) this week provided funding for a WHO project to strengthen the health sector, including medical supplies, specialized care for 800 people who sustained major injuries and need rehabilitation, strengthened disease control, improved services for mothers and children, and mental and psychosocial support.

Since the quakes, WHO and its partners have been working closely with Indonesian authorities, sending trained health staff and medicines to help minimize public health threats, succeeding in preventing disease epidemics and starting to restore destroyed services, particularly primary health care.

WHO’s South-East Asian regional office has provided funds for mobile clinics, while the Norwegian Government provided surgical equipment to treat the injured and water treatment plants.


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