Direct Relief Responds to Flooding in Bolivia

Direct Relief International is responding to the severe flooding that has plagued Bolivia since January. Two emergency air shipments were sent last week to healthcare providers in Bolivia to help them address the large number of cases of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, skin diseases, and dengue fever resulting from the flooding.

The assistance, valued at $403,517 (wholesale), includes basic antibiotics, analgesics, oral rehydration salts, medicated topical creams, and assorted basic care materials like bandages and dressings. The support has been provided to two in-country health partners, PROSALUD and Population Services International (PSI).

PROSALUD, Bolivia’s largest health non-governmental organization, operates 32 health facilities in six of Bolivia’s nine departments. The organization provides primary care to low-income urban and peri-urban communities, complemented by two referral hospitals and one child development center. PROSALUD is based in Santa Cruz, an area severely affected by the flooding.

PSI has been active in Bolivia since 1995 and closely collaborates with the Bolivian Ministry of Health, the World Food Program, UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and a range of local NGOs. With facilities in the departments of Beni and Pando, PSI focuses on malaria and maternal and child health treatment, and provides health education for the indigenous population.

After nearly three months of heavy rain in Bolivia, UNICEF estimates that as many as 400,000 people have been affected by the worst floods in 25 years. Moreover, thousands of homes have been destroyed, crops have been lost, roads have become impassable, and at least 40 people have been reported dead.

The rains have greatly affected the eastern province of Santa Cruz, the country’s agricultural center. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports indicate that some 71,000 hectares of crops have been partially or totally lost. The thousands of people that previously evacuated are now living in camps, tents, or have taken refuge in churches and schools.

Direct Relief has worked with partner healthcare providers in Bolivia since the 1970s providing over $5.5 million (wholesale) of medical assistance. This support has included both ongoing health support and emergency response to flooding in 2003, as well as for flooding and earthquake recovery efforts in 1998.

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