It has been almost a week since the earthquakes, but the ground still shakes now and then in Kumamoto and Oita prefecture in Japan. As of 20 April, the number of people displaced sits at around 103,000 in Kumamoto and around 600 in Oita.
It is estimated that to date 58 people have died and around 1,100 people have been injured in the two prefectures; the authorities are still searching for those who are unaccounted for. Due to heavy rains on 21 April and the subsequent risk of landslides, some 240,000 people have been advised to evacuate 19 cities, towns and villages in Kumamoto and Oita.
The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team travelled to Kumamoto prefecture on 17 April and identified a severe lack of basic healthcare in Minami-aso village because houses and medical facilities there were severely damaged and people have been living in shelters since 14 April. On 20 April, MSF visited temporary shelters set up in each area of the village to assess their level of hygiene and to get first-hand accounts of the situation. The team made suggestions on how to improve the shelters.
MSF has also played a role as a referent for paediatric care in the Minami-aso area because there are no paediatricians working there. One of the shelters visited by the MSF team was in Minami-aso Nishi Elementary School, where five families with young children currently stay. “It’s reassuring to know we have a paediatrician here,” said a mother of two young children who was visiting her hometown from the UK when the earthquake struck.
MSF supported the opening of a clinic
In the Hakusui local government office in Minami-aso, the MSF team supported other organisations in the opening of a clinic, based on MSF’s experience in responding to emergencies. This clinic opened on 20 April and shelters in the surrounding area were notified of this.
MSF also provided medical examinations in the evacuation centre in Tateno district in northern Minami-aso, where largely impassable roads make it hard for people to reach medical care. Additionally, MSF finished setting up a tent clinic on 20 April. However, as a result of heavy rain and the threat of landslides, everyone in the evacuation centre was forced to move to Ozu town. MSF will visit Ozu to support them and to review the clinic plan.
The MSF team working in the area hit by the Kumamoto earthquake is made up of three doctors, three nurses, a pharmacist, a psychologist, a logistician and an administrator.
Find out more about MSF in Japan.