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Hospital and health staff severely affected by earthquake and Tsunami

© UNICEF Solomon Islands

Gizo/Solomon Islands, April 2007 -  Up to 100 staff at Gizo Hospital in the Solomon Islands and more health workers from the surrounding clinics are now living in makeshift tents and under tarpaulins on higher ground. Dr. James Alto Gugumae, Director of Paediatrics at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, said health workers were “traumatized themselves and only some have come back to help.”

“In order to rebuild the hospital we need to put staff lives back together first, then they can resume the services they provide,” Dr. Gugumae said.

“Doctors, nurses, kitchen cooks, cleaners, laboratory technicians and so forth were affected by the tsunami. This is quite an amount of people who provide services,” he said.

Dr Gugumae requested that basic items such as proper shelters, linen and cooking utensils are met first “so medical staff can assist people who have been affected.”

He said it was only three minutes after the earthquake that a tsunami swept through the town of Gizo, leaving no time for the hospital staff to gather their belongings and flee.

“It’s amazing that the hospital is still in place with only a few parts damaged. The housing for hospital staff which is right beside the hospital was totally destroyed.”

Having spent a week in Gizo assisting health and relief workers, Dr Gugumae said in the short term it would be good if more medical staff could be re-positioned to Gizo.

Currently, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) have arranged for small teams of medical staff made up of at least ten doctors and up to twenty nurses from different areas of Solomon Islands, to spend a week or two on a rotational basis in Gizo.

“There are small medical teams on a rotational basis from different parts of Solomon Islands which helps the short term relief. But there is an urgency to build the homes and lives of the health workers affected so that they can do their work,” he said.

He expressed appreciation towards the medical teams from Australia, New Zealand, France, Taiwan and Papua New Guinea.

UNICEF in the Solomon Islands has supplied emergency drugs and medical equipment to cater for the needs of the affected population for the next three months.   UNICEF is also supporting a measles immunization campaign in the affected areas and covering the costs of rotating some Government Health and Nutrition workers to Gizo form other parts of the Solomon Islands to support to ensure the health system can continue to function in the immediate aftermath of this disaster.



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