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Supporting Mullaitivu hospital

14-02-2005 Feature

As part of its post-tsunami operations in Sri Lanka, the ICRC is supporting health facilities like the hospital in Mullaitivu which was in desperate need of repair and refurbishment.

The project involves the repainting and renovation of existing wards, the installation of temporary shelter for nurses and other staff and repairs to the electrical and water systems.

Two large tents have been installed in the grounds of the hospital to accommodate patients for the duration of the building works. After the job is completed, these tents will be used as outpatient clinics. Across the street a compound that includes six tents, shower facilities, a wash area, a kitchen and latrines has been set up for the nursing staff.

The ICRC has also repaired the cement walls of the hospital well, which had cracked during the disaster.

Following the tsunami on December 26, the hospital was evacuated for a couple of days when it was completely encircled by water. The nurses and hospital staff from the nearby village lost their homes and have been sleeping in the hospital offices or commuting from temporary shelters several kilometres away. Now, they will live in the tents during their working schedule and visit their families on days off. 

" It will be helpful to be close to the hospital, " explains 41-year old nurse Mary Jacintha Balachandran, " We will be more available for emergencies, and space will be freed up to accommodate more patients. "  

" It is difficult for us, " she says, " but we also have to help others for humanitarian reasons. "  

" We hope that the work we are doing on the hospital will help restore some of the confidence of the people forced to flee the area, " explains Rachel Bernhard the head of the ICRC's sub-dele gation for the region.

" The hospital is only 2 kilometres from the sea shore, and so the work we are doing has a psychological as well as a medical value. "

The hospital serves a population of some 60,000 people and currently has a capacity of 30 beds. The ICRC, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and other National Societies active in the relief operations, has indicated it is ready to carry out further work at the hospital as part of overall reconstruction efforts in the country.

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