A second AmeriCares emergency response team is on the ground in Fiji, helping with the recovery from Cyclone Winston. The Category 5 storm – the strongest on record in the Southern Hemisphere – made landfall Saturday evening local time, leaving a path of destruction including flattened homes and downed power lines. More than 40 people are confirmed dead, thousands of homes are damaged or destroyed, and many areas have lost power, water, and communications. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is reporting that 30 percent of Fiji’s health facilities were damaged by the catastrophic cyclone.
“The severity of the storm and the extent of the damage have put the health and safety of survivors, particularly in rural areas, at great risk,” said AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia. “We have a team on the ground working with local health facilities and partners, and aid shipments are underway.”
AmeriCares stocks emergency medicines and relief supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. For Fiji, AmeriCares has already sent one shipment of medical and relief supplies, with two more prepared and ready to be shipped.
Assessing the Damage
Of the 63 damaged health facilities, two major hospitals have reported significant damage, including one in the capital city where labor and delivery rooms, the intensive care unit and an operating room were flooded. Part of the roof of another hospital was blown off, forcing patients to be relocated, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Our emergency team is hand carrying relief supplies and critical medicine to affected health facilities to meet immediate needs. Current priorities include addressing trauma and acute health needs, preventing communicable diseases endemic to Fiji, and restocking damaged and destroyed medicines in health facilities to ensure continuity of care.
AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, political conflict and extreme poverty around the world for more than 30 years, saving lives and restoring health and hope. AmeriCares also brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities and launches long-term recovery programs after major emergencies that restore health services and strengthen health systems.