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Public Health Ministry: 55 refugee camp fire survivors suffer mental problems

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BANGKOK, 27 March 2013 (NNT) – The Public Health Ministry has confirmed that a number of survivors from last week’s fire accident at a refugee camp in northern Mae Hong Son have suffered mental health problems.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong said on Wednesday that the government assistance to those who survived the inferno at the Baan Mae Surin refugee camp, particularly health and medical help, has been continuously carried out since March 22.

Mr. Pradit stated that data collected up to March 26 showed 190 of the refugees have suffered physical health problems, such as flu, body pain and cuts, while about 10 people have been having their wounds tended each day. It is reported that there has not been any case of infection and outbreak.

In terms of mental health, the minister said a team of psychologists and screening officials have already made an assessment of all 1,215 survivors and found 55 of them suffering psychological health issues.

He added 18 of them are existing patients, who also suffered burn from the incident, and 37 are new patients with problems of amnesia or stress. Two of the newly-registered patients are put under the close watch list, with one noted as being suicidal.

The Public Health Minister said he has instructed the Mae Hong Son health office chief to work with international health groups to formulate a healthcare plan for locals, and to follow up on the mental health treatment for 7 days before the reassessment is made this coming Saturday.

Mr. Pradit went on to say that more reassessment session for all survivors will be made against after 3 and 6 months have passed while young survivors, accounting for 40% of the camp population, particularly those who have become orphans after the fire, will be reassessed in 2 months’ time.

He, however, conceded that the mental healthcare treatment is a daunting and time-consuming mission due to the high number of patients, their somewhat-constant mobilization and the need of interpreters.