Recently returned from Samoa, medical
experts including Dr Teuila Percival who heads Pacific Health at
Auckland University, say survivors of the September 29th disaster are suffering from chronic “tsunami lung” which is shortening their lives.
We’ve previously posted about the
public health risks facing tsunami survivors. It seems it’s now being
picked up by mainstream media. Public health professionals in Samoa
voiced concerns about deaths resulting from untreated and infected
injuries from Day one. They said secondary deaths would result from
injuries and infections left untreated. One doctor, whose Red Cross
diary we published here, talked of the challenge of trying to convince
an injured survivor to leave his family to get treatment. His infection
was spreading and posing serious risks to his well-being. It was only
after much urging that he finally agreed to leave his family to attend
the medical clinic.
One thing that some may have overlooked
is that when dead bodies have been in the water, it contaminates the
water. That’s because a corpse leaks faeces and release gases, some of
them poisonous, as part of decomposition at some stage.
Another story we heard from survivors
was of men, who had survived the tsunami with severe injuries but still
refusing to get treatment. Instead, they got stuck into clearing debris
and rebuilding their homes. As noble and appreciated as that is, it
poses a dangerous risk to their health and life if they don’t stop to
get urgent medical treatment.
Public health professionals in Samoa
were predicting from day one that there would be secondary deaths among
survivors simply because of infection from untreated wounds and
This is where our men, and our women, need to really take care of themselves and take their injuries seriously.
That brings us to post-traumatic stress
disorder. Many, as predicted by health professionals, are suffering
from it. The challenge that grief counsellors faced in the first weeks
post-tsunami is something we posted about earlier: some survivors did
not want to talk. Their refusal to talk about it is said to concern
counsellors citing Samoa’s previously high suicide rate.
UNICEF Media Release
UNICEF supports water tankering for displaced Samoan families
Apia, 1 November 2009 – Almost 3,000 people, many of them children, are still relying on roadside delivery of water a month after a tsunami hit Samoa.
The UN Children’s Fund is supporting the Samoan Water Authority
(SWA) with two water tankers to provide essential supplies for families
who don’t have any other water source in the tsunami-devastated south
and southeast of Samoa. The SWA is operating up to eight water tankers,
supported by UNICEF and partner organisations, that run between 8am and
midnight on a daily basis.
UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, Madhav Pahari, says
that after the tsunami on 29 September, many people who originally
lived in coastal areas moved inland, often setting up temporary
shelters on plantation lands that are on higher ground.
“The tsunami destroyed and damaged many people’s houses by the
coast, forcing them to relocate. A lot of families also feel that it’s
not safe to live beside the sea any more,” says Mr Pahari.
“Although running water has since been restored to the
tsunami-devastated areas, a lot of people have relocated to
agricultural areas where there is no existing water source.
“Trucking in water for these displaced families is essential to meet
their immediate humanitarian needs for drinking water, as well as water
for cleaning, washing and sanitation.
“Delivery is along secondary dirt and gravel roads, near to where
people are sheltering. Families, including young children, bring
containers to the roadside where they are filled directly from the
“Although this situation is far from ideal, families do appear to be receiving adequate quantities of water for their needs.”
Mr Pahari says providing water using tankers is only ever a
temporary measure until a more permanent source of water can be
“UNICEF is working with the SWA to bring in a water engineer within
the next week whose job will be to identify safe water sources for the
displaced population and to provide options for a more sustainable
water supply. We will then need to identify funding options with the
Government and partner organisations. The area has a number of rivers
and lakes, so it may be that tapping these sources using a gravity-fed
piping system is a practical and cost effective option.”
In the aftermath of the tsunami, UNICEF has provided 3,500
collapsible 10-litre water containers; 5,000 bars of soap; 2,000 oral
rehydration salts (to treat the dehydration resulting from diarrhoea);
and close to 10,000 copies of key hygiene messages including the
importance of hand-washing before eating and after using the toilet,
food safety and rubbish removal. In addition, supplies of 5,000 water
purification tablets are available for deployment as required.
CocaCola NZ and Air NZ have partnered with UNICEF to fly in 2,000
bottles of drinking water for distribution to children at
Posted on Tue, November 3, 2009
by pacificEyeWitness.org filed under