MAP International's director of relief, John Garvin, continued to assess the medical needs in Mozambique in the wake of massive flooding earlier this month that has brought this struggling country to its knees. Traveling by helicopter, as the roads are totally inaccessible, he surveyed seven districts over the last several days with teams from partner agencies World Vision and Food for the Hungry.
He reported from the Machanga district: "The shelter in most places, especially in the more rural areas, consists of crude tents and makeshift shelters of wood scrap and tin, tree branches, and thatch. In the U.S., you wouldn't put your lawn mower into a place that now houses families with five or more children." "The weather is muggy, sweaty, hot and humid," said Garvin. "With temperatures in the 90s, there is no electricity, no running water in the villages for drinking or sanitation. The people are using latrines or the bush, which dramatically increases the potential for the spread of disease."
The Mozambican health authorities have issued a maximum alert against a possible outbreak of cholera. They are acutely concerned with the camps where tens of thousands have sought shelter after losing their homes to the floods in the southern and central regions. This alert follows an alarming increase in the cases of acute diarrhea. The port city of Beira alone has reported over 1,200 "official" cases of acute diarrheal disease.
The first shipment of MAP donated medicines was scheduled to have arrived Saturday, March 18th. Mechanical problems with the charter plane on its last leg into Maputo delayed the arrival until Tuesday, March 21, but Food for the Hungry personnel met the shipment at the airport, and the medicines are already being used in and around the port city of Beira. A second shipment, a cooperative effort with World Vision/Canada, was due to arrive and be distributed by the week's end.