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Medical Teams Care for Flood Survivors in Uttarakhand

  • July 12, 2013
  • Dr. Divyesh Devaliya provides medicine to residents of flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand.
  • Americares India, Uttarakhand, Emergency Medical Response

In response to the devastating flood disaster in Uttarakhand, the AmeriCares India team has mobilized free medical camps and is distributing relief supplies to help survivors in hard-hit districts of the Indian state. The flooding killed thousands and left many villages cut off from aid and health services.

From June 28-July 4, AmeriCares India doctors travelled through treacherous terrain to 40 villages in the districts of Rudraprayag and Pauri Garwhal, providing free primary care services to more than 600 patients.   The historic flooding left survivors suffering from injuries, infections, and diarrhea, and at risk from a variety of diseases including typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis and malaria.   

“Many of the patients seen by our emergency medical teams had flood-related injuries and illnesses, as well as chronic conditions that they could not get help for, because roads were impassable due to landslides, debris, and washouts,” said Garrett Ingoglia, vice-president of emergency response at AmeriCares India. One patient, a 5-month-old baby boy, was treated for acute diarrhea. The family was unable to get health care for the child because their village was completely cut off by fallen debris.

One of the roads in Uttarakhand destroyed by landslides, cutting off many communities.

One of the roads in Uttarakhand destroyed by landslides, cutting off many communities.

“While in the field, our teams also saw first-hand the crucial need for maternal and child health services,” explained Ingoglia. The teams tended to three newborn babies, including a set of twins whose mother could not get to a health facility in time to deliver her first child because of blocked roads. “If our team had not deployed, there would not have been a doctor immediately available to attend to the newborn and mother because of disaster-related staffing shortages at the health facility, ” he said.  

The camps were supported with medicines from three emergency aid shipments, including ophthalmic solutions, multivitamins, and medicines to treat pain, infection, diabetes, inflammation.  In addition to providing direct care and distributing medicine to partner health organizations, the AmeriCares India team distributed water purification tablets to give survivors access to uncontaminated water.

The disaster struck Uttarakhand in June, after heavy monsoon rains gave rise to catastrophic flooding, inundating 12 districts that are home to more than 1.6 million people. The floods caused landslides destroyed homes, roads, bridges and crops. Rudraprayag was one of the worst-affected districts, with many areas completely cut off by the floods.

Working with the Uttarakhand State Ministry of Health, and partners in the region, AmeriCares India will continue to conduct free medical camps and flood relief efforts in the hardest-hit areas.

To date, AmeriCares India has delivered more than $50 million worth of critical medicines and supplies in India —a figure that continues to grow significantly through the AmeriCares India office in Mumbai. In 2011 and 2012, AmeriCares India responded with aid to help survivors of the Orissa and Assam floods.