Day 20: Cyclone Winston Response, Fiji

Current Situation:

18,600 people remain in 555 evacuation centers across Fiji in the wake of Cyclone Winston. The death toll from the cyclone remains at 43. UN assessments indicate that a total of 87,500 women of reproductive age have been affected by Cyclone Winston, and it is estimated that this amount includes ‘5,600 pregnant women, of which 1,600 are expected to give birth in the next three months.

The UN estimates that 200 of these deliveries are at risk of an obstetric complication requiring emergency medical care. As a result, maternal and child healthcare is a critical issue for families in the affected areas, where shelters are destroyed, and 38 percent of the nation’s health facilities have sustained some form of damage – 8 with major damage and 55 with minor damage.

Wide-scale destruction of crops will have a lasting social impact, especially in the sugar cane industry that employs some 30,000 workers. The CEO of Fiji’s sugar industry association, Mr. Mohammed Rafiq, reports that it is now too late to plant a second crop, and the farmers who do the planting are now trying to rebuild their houses. This means that thousands of poor farmers will have less income this year from their crops at a time when they need more financial resources to rebuild their homes in the wake of Cyclone Winston.

Developments:

Working closely with Fiji’s Ministry of Health and the Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services Center (FPBS), Direct Relief has already delivered and distributed 10 tons of specifically requested emergency medicines and medical supplies. Direct Relief has assisted the FPBS in developing a national distribution plan and supported this distribution by renting trucks and funding the transportation of goods via ocean ferry between islands.

On behalf of the Korovou [Hospital] team, I wish to extend our gratitude and appreciation for the donated items that w[ere] delivered to us…. We have been in need for an autoclave machine for more than three years, and this is an answer to our prayers.” — Dr. Ilisapeci Lasaro, Sub-Division Medical Officer, Tailevu.

Direct Relief’s emergency medicines and medical supplies, including a complete disaster module, have been distributed to Fiji’s national referral hospital, the Colonial War Memorial Hospital; Rakiraki Maternity Hospital; Savusavu Hospital; Lautoka Hospital; and Korovou Hospital.

The FPBS is also utilizing Direct Relief’s weatherproof orange tubs to transport requested medicines out to the most remote affected island communities, including Udu Nursing Station on the Island of Kabara – 180 miles southeast of Suva.

Working with Fiji’s Ministry of Health, Direct Relief is now readying a shipment of requested emergency tents – provided by Barebones – that will be utilized at the sites of damaged health facilities. These tents will be donated to the Ministry of Health via the FPBS, to Savusavu Community Foundation, and the Loloma Foundation.

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