Project HOPE is accepting donations of cash and medicines to aid the people of southern Mozambique, which is experiencing its most devastating flooding in decades. The first shipment of essential pharmaceuticals and medical supplies is planned for March-April. HOPE has worked in southern Africa for more than 10 years, and has long-term health programs and country staff in Mozambique, to coordinate the relief effort.
Conditions in Mozambique change daily; the following is based on news and situational reports from March 3-6:
The flooding in Mozambique has left an estimated one million citizens homeless and without access to the most basic needs. Subsistence crops have been destroyed in the southern third of the country. Many Mozambicans have drowned, others have found precarious shelter in trees and on rooftops. The remnants of Cyclone Gloria - which together with an earlier cyclone and a steady two-week downpour caused the flooding - has been downgraded to a tropical storm. But the weather system is expected to bring still more rain.
As of March 6, international aid operations are turning their attention from rescue missions to distribution of food and medicines, as malnutrition and disease begin to soar. UN officials are delivering aid to 64 camps around southern Mozambique. According to the UN representative in Mozambique, most of the camps need clean water, medicine and tents.
Within the next few weeks, as floodwaters recede, Mozambique will face even worse after effects of the flooding. Health services are overwhelmed by the number of patients in the affected areas. Drug stocks are running low and there is a serious shortage of health staff. According to an official of the World Health Organization, "The overcrowded conditions under which the displaced people now live pose a danger of an outbreak of epidemics which could affect at least 800,000 Mozambicans." There is a particular threat of diseases such as cholera, malaria, meningitis, infectious diarrhea, and eye infections. The death toll from these secondary effects of the flooding may well exceed that from drowning, especially among young children.
The Government of Mozambique has requested medical aid to combat the looming health crisis. Immediate needs for those who have had their livelihoods and health destroyed by the floods include antibiotics, antimalarials, intravenous fluids, and ophthalmologic preparations, as well as medical equipment to replenish the clinics destroyed by the floods.
Project HOPE is working with Mozambique's coordinating body for the disaster response, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), and the national Ministry of Health (MOH) to identify types and quantities of medicines and supplies most urgently needed in the affected areas. As HOPE has done in previous humanitarian assistance campaigns, donations of these products are now being solicited from leading pharmaceutical and other health care companies.
HOPE plans to assemble the first shipment over the next three weeks, and send it by ocean freight, for arrival in Mozambique in April. Subsequent medical aid will be secured and delivered as needs and resources dictate. We have opted to use ocean freight for the first shipment because, given present chaotic conditions, dependable storage and transportation and distribution systems in country will require several weeks to arrange.
Project HOPE currently has a staff and long-term programs in Mozambique (see below) and close relationships with the central Ministry of Health. Since donation coordination will run through the INGC, we will work with this agency, as well as UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross, the MOH, and other appropriate groups.
HOPE in Mozambique
Project HOPE has been active in Mozambique since 1997. We have worked closely with the MOH and community-based organizations in providing primary health care services in areas where the Ministry is unable to easily reach all populations. This has included immunization activities, HIV/AIDS prevention and education, and training of community members to address child survival through diarrhea control, malaria management, and other preventable diseases. HOPE has also contributed to the training of medical and nursing staff in primary health care management.