In response to one of the worst flood disasters in the region in more than a decade, an AmeriCares India team has mobilized five free medical camps and distributed water purification tablets and other relief supplies to help thousands of survivors in the beleaguered northeastern state of Assam. The flooding, which began in late June, reached over 27 districts of the state – badly damaging 2,166 villages, severely affecting 2 million people and causing 124 deaths.
The receding water level since mid-July has left illnesses in its wake, ranging from water borne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A to vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. Skin infections from continuous exposure to flood waters have also emerged as an important health issue.
After evaluating the disaster with the help of local NGOs and international relief organizations, AmeriCares India sent a medical team to Jorhat, one of the worst affected districts. Dr Swati Jha, Dr Kinjal Waghela and Mr Chandrakant Deshpande were equipped to carry out medical camps and to distribute essential non-food-items (NFIs) for people who had lost most things in the flood. The team also carried water purification tablets as a part of the NFI kits and separately. They partnered with NEADS, a local NGO working in the area since 1982.
The first challenge was transporting over 2000 kgs of relief material and storing them safely and then arranging the logistics for travelling to the inaccessible flood affected villages for the medical camps and distribution of relief materials. Over the next week, the team travelled by SUV across treacherous embankments, boats across the strong river currents, and on foot on muddy roads to do five medical camps across 14 villages over two districts in the state. During this time they were able to dispense medical care to 777 patients. They also distributed water purification tablets to 800 families. Three hundred families from the very badly affected village of Rupohimukh were given the AmeriCares NFI kits.
Americares is continuing to support the relief work in two other districts Tinsukia and Tejpur, through two NGO partners in these areas.