An Americares emergency team has responded to severe flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people and left thousands homeless.
The organization mobilized experienced disaster response experts from its offices in Mumbai, India, and the United States to meet survivors’ immediate health needs. More than 800,000 people in 15 of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts were forced to evacuate their homes following heavy rains that began on May 25. As a result of the heavy rains and flooding, an increase in mosquito breeding sites has led to Sri Lanka’s worst dengue outbreak; 114,215 suspected cases have been reported as of July 30th.
Following the initial disaster response, Americares launched a three-month intervention focused on rehabilitation of health facilities, mental health and psychosocial programming, and replenishment of medicine and supplies. Two damaged Maternal and Child Health Clinics are being repaired and services restored. In addition, 14 Community Support Officers have been trained to support community health in flood-affected areas and continue their community outreach.
“Tens of thousands of people in the affected areas have limited access to clean water, so we are very concerned about the spread of cholera, dysentery and other waterborne diseases. Dengue fever is also on the rise in Sri Lanka and could pose an additional health threat.”
Americares is delivering medicine and relief supplies for displaced families, as well as offering assistance to ensure health facilities can continue treating survivors. At least 60 health facilities have been damaged, including four hospitals. In addition to planning repairs for health facilities, the team has partnered with a local organization providing mental health services to survivors.
Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The organization responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities.
Americares has a long history of working in Sri Lanka, including a multi-year response to the 2004 tsunami. Americares completed a $50 million aid program for tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India that rebuilt schools, hospitals, water systems and livelihoods. In all, Americares rebuilt or renovated more than 40 health care facilities across Southeast Asia.