New health threats emerge for Sulawesi survivors
The disaster damaged water infrastructure and treatment facilities, according to aid groups, and much of Palu now lacks clean running water.
Iskandar Avan, 35, came to an Indonesian Red Cross clinic in Palu on Saturday to ask for medicine for his two daughters.
Now, most patients are coming in with fever, diarrhoea, and skin infections.
“This poses a serious threat of them becoming incubators for diseases like cholera or dysentery.” Waiting for aid to reach remote areas Outside Palu’s biggest hospital, Undata, two patients with severe respiratory infections lay next to each other under tents, where the maimed and the dying were treated after the earthquakes and tsunami hit.
The boy had just arrived and his chest heaved up and down with each struggling breath.
Indonesian authorities say medical services are available in 15 hospitals in the affected area; nearly all of these are in Palu.
The group has been sending small teams to assess conditions and provide medical check-ups in remote places like Tompe, which volunteers visited last Friday – a full week after the disaster hit.
“We had 146 patients, mostly diarrhoea and respiratory infections.” Irham, who sleeps at his healthcare station in Palu, said his group’s supply of diarrhoea medication is nearly finished, and he’s not sure when he’ll be able to get a new batch.
He said the coordination and communication of official aid has been poor for volunteer groups like his.
Irham, the university volunteer, says it’s essential that authorities ensure a steady supply of clean water throughout the disaster area.