Rohingya refugees are leaving Myanmar en masse with 655,000+ already in Bangladesh and another 300,000 expected to arrive over the first few weeks of January. As refugee camps become more strained, living conditions diminish. The International Rescue Committee reports 95% of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh don’t have access to clean water. Health care is considered one of the greatest needs in the camps and in the final days of 2017 relief workers reported multiple cases of diphtheria and a lack of the necessary supplies to treat it. At least 27 people have died from the highly contagious bacterial infection and at least 2,000 suspected cases were reported as of December 21st.
Airlink is working with NGO partners to respond to the growing need for medical support in the refugee camps.
Medical Teams International was the first partner organization to deploy, with a project starting in December 2017. More than a year later, MTI volunteers and staff in Bangladesh are still building Primary Healthcare Clinics and Diarrhea Treatment Units, treating patients, and training refugees as Community Health Workers. MTI teams on the ground see about 67 patients a day, but as the crisis grows, their organization and others are increasing the number of relief workers they send.
Airlink also worked with airline partners to deploy a small team from Global Outreach Doctors to Unchiprang and Shamlapur camps, where they served between 180 and 300 people per day – addressing a range of medical needs including respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, including cholera, diphtheria, and dysentery, as well as trauma/wound care and psychosocial support. The team worked with the WHO to operate remote clinics in the camps and to extricate sick patients who cannot make the journey to clinics near the outskirts of the camps. Global Outreach Doctors, in partnership with Migrant Offshore Aid Station, also performed swift water rescue and addressed the critical medical needs of refugees coming ashore by fishing boat.