Uttarakhand Crisis: Medical Camps Help Survivors in Flood-Stricken Villages

Shripad Desai and Chandrakant Deshpande from AmeriCares India with a van load of supplies in the state of Uttarakhan, heading to health officials for use in the affected areas.

“The disaster in Uttarakhand is truly catastrophic. We are committed to addressing the many health needs of the survivors, and will bring to bear all necessary resources to do so.”
Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of emergency response

In response to catastrophic flooding, AmeriCares India team has mobilized medical camps and emergency aid deliveries to help survivors in the beleaguered state of Uttarakhand.

Early and severe monsoon rains in the north gave rise to floods that swept away buildings and triggered landslides, stranding tens of thousands—many of whom were part of a mass pilgrimage to Kendarnath.  The rains breached a mountaintop glacier, sending ice, rock, mud and water down the mountain causing widespread death and destruction.  The disaster, described by officials as a “Himalayan tsunami,” has left many roads impassable, with some areas completely cut off by water.  Officials fear that the final death toll could be as high as 10,000.

Medical camps to help survivors in crisis

Five AmeriCares teams consisting of doctors and pharmacists are establishing health camps in the  hard-hit areas of Dehradun, Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts of Uttarakhand state.

A displaced girl sleeps outside her makeshift tent at a camp by the roadside after a rise in the waters of the river Yamuna after heavy rains
A displaced girl sleeps outside her makeshift tent at a camp by the roadside after a rise in the waters of the river Yamuna after heavy rains Photo by REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee, www.trust.org
AmeriCares India will continue flood relief assessment efforts, collaborating with local health officials and response organization
AmeriCares India will continue flood relief assessment efforts, collaborating with local health officials and response organization

The health camps will be in place for approximately three months, focusing on treating patients with flood-related conditions such as malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, leptospirosis, hepatitis A and dengue fever, as well as skin infections that spread easily in contaminated floodwaters.  Medicines also will be provided for people with chronic diseases who don’t have access to their medications while they are displaced.

From their base of operations at the district camps, the emergency medical teams will travel to interior villages to offer assistance. AmeriCares is coordinating its flood response with the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, which is providing additional medical staff to conduct regional camps, as well as lodging and warehousing for current and future camps.

The AmeriCares team also delivered 50 boxes of medicine and medical supplies to the State Health Ministry to use in the response effort.  AmeriCares India will continue flood relief and needs assessment efforts, collaborating with local health officials and response organizations to meet immediate and long-term needs.

“The disaster in Uttarakhand is truly catastrophic.  AmeriCares is committed to addressing the many health needs of the survivors, and will bring to bear all necessary resources to do so,” said Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of emergency response.

To date, AmeriCares has delivered more than $50 million worth of critical medicines and supplies to India – a figure that continues to grow significantly through the AmeriCares India office in Mumbai. In 2012, AmeriCares India provided aid and medical camps to flood victims in Assam, and in 2011, we helped thousands of survivors in the wake of the Orissa floods.