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South Asia earthquake: Finnish Red Cross provides medical assistance

27-10-2005 Feature

The ICRC's Jean-François Berger accompanies a Finnish Red Cross mobile medical team as they treat patients injured during the earthquake.

" You are the first to come here since the earthquake! " says Sudjah from the village of Buruha, set 2000 metres on the slopes overlooking the Neelum river.
 
It took just a few minutes for the Finnish Red Cross team to set up their medical consultation unit under a huge nut tree. Over the next three hours, doctors and nurses treated 40 people on the spot for a range of complaints including respiratory problems and various wounds such as a foot fracture.
 
It was not necessary to evacuate any of the injured as the seriously hurt had already been taken down to the valley by stretcher in the days following the disaster. The care provided by the Finnish Red Cross team, however, brings relief to those in pain and helps prevent any complications setting in.

   
  ©ICRC/O.Moekli/pk-e-00128    
 
  A wounded child is evacuated to Muzaffarabad    
     

Few houses in the village had been completely destroyed by the earthquake but most had suffered cracks that forced villagers to remain outdoors and to sleep in the open. The school had also been shut.
 
People in Buruha knew very little about the scale of the disaster and were eager for news from Muzzafarabad. Isolated and anxious about how they will cope with the approaching winter, the arrival of the medical team brought some much-needed relief and contact with the outside world.
 
Until now, 815 patients have been treated by the ICRC mobile health teams in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Since the local health system is seriously disrupted, the ICRC is strengthening its medical presence both in Muzzafarabad and outside the town.
 
Two basic health clinics are almost completed outside Muzzafarabad, one in Pattika, Neelum Valley and one in Chinari.