Médecins Sans Frontières responds to floods in Brazil

January 18, 2011

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Médecins Sans Frontières responds to floods in Brazil © REUTERS/Bruno Domingos

Since last Tuesday, torrential rains have caused severe flooding in the mountainous region north of Rio de Janeiro. More than 630 people are estimated to have been killed in the flooding and resulting landslides while thousands have been left homeless. After an assessment in the most affected areas, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is mobilising two medical teams to run mobile clinics in São José do Vale do Rio Preto and Nova Friburgo.

In São José do Vale do Rio Preto, an estimated 10000 people have been affected by the floods and over 1200 people have been displaced. In Nova Friburgo, one of the most affected towns, over 5000 people are believed to be displaced or homeless. The teams – with one doctor, one psychologist and one nurse or nurse assistant each – will travel to affected and isolated areas where people have not been able to access health care. The mobile teams will also provide mental health support to relatives of the victims, people left homeless or displaced as well as to local health workers.

“It has been raining continuously and access to the affected areas is difficult. Some roads have been completely blocked by huge mudslides”, said Sergio Cabral, MSF doctor participating in the assessment. Despite the vast mobilisation from the public and other organisations to provide assistance to people affected by the floods, the aid is still not enough to cover all the needs, especially in the most remote areas. In São José do Vale do Rio Preto, the population has received virtually no help and most of the healthcare facilities are not functional. We also found a dire need for mental health support in the affected areas, both for the victims and for health workers who have been trying to cope with this disaster”, he added.

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