Health Camps in flood ravaged delta region of Tamil Nadu
21 December, 2010
Heavy torrential rains in November unleashed floods in many parts of Tamil Nadu. The State’s southern districts bore the brunt of the Northeast monsoon’s fury; with Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam the worst hit. The situation was aggravated by concurrent breaches in river embankments. The raging floods rendered thousands homeless, collapsing or submerging houses, killing cattle, destroying crops, and washing away household stocks.
Nearly 6000 families were displaced in Thiruthuraipoondi, Muthupettai and Kaattur Union of Thiruvarur District and Thirukuvalai Taluk of Nagapattanam. These families remain in temporary shelters spread among 159 camps hosted in government schools, community halls, temples and churches.
Although rains have ceased and the flood waters have begun receding, the precarious living conditions pose a severe threat to health. Crowded living conditions often elevate the risk of acute respiratory infections among displaced persons. Poor access to safe sources of water and adequate sanitation facilities threaten the transmission of water and food borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever. Alarmed at the high risk of morbidity and mortality, Isha Outreach deployed two Mobile Health Clinics to the affected areas.
Each Isha Mobile Clinic (MHC) was manned by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, driver, camp organizer and camp assistant. Marooned villages in dire need of medical help were selected and the village president was informed about the arrival of MHC.
Although many roadways were inundated, the all terrain mobile clinics accessed schools, community halls, and temples treating 3000 people for various ailments and educating over 10,000 people on prevention of food and waterborne diseases. A local volunteer from the village accompanied each MHC team as a guide.
The Isha Outreach team reported a significant emotional impact among the affected population owing to the disaster; exhibiting signs of depression, stress and anxiety.
While routinely diagnosing and treating patients, doctors listened to their plight with empathy and provided counselling. To offer psychosocial support, the team conducted games sessions in five communities.