On the 27th of May, a 5.9 richter earthquake struck southern Indonesia, killing more than 6,000 people. In Bantul district, located in Yogyakarta region at the earthquake’s epicentre, between 80 and 90 percent of houses were destroyed leaving up to 680,000 people homeless and an estimated 30,000 injured.
Merlin, which has been working in tsunami-devastated Northern Indonesia since January 2005, sent an emergency response team to the heart of the earthquake zone the day after the disaster struck. The team immediately set up a mobile clinic to operate in the rural areas of Bantul, where injured and homeless victims were in great need of medical aid.
In the small village of Colo, villagers camp out along side the ruins of their homes. The Merlin medical team treat several injured residents, including Marco Viono (pictured), 55, who’s injured finger had become dangerously infected.
“A piece of wood fell from the ceiling and crushed it,” explains his wife. The wound had not been cleaned for five days. If not properly treated, such a condition, could have lead to a fatal septic infection.
Dr. Yolanda Bayugo, Merlin’s Health Director in Indonesia who has been working with the mobile team, explains: “Since the earthquake, the region’s hospitals have been completely overwhelmed.
“Merlin has been working mostly in rural areas to ease the burden on larger central hospitals, and to maximise the opportunity to provide follow-up care.”
The demand for medical personnel in hospital centres has pulled much-needed aid out from rural areas affected by the earthquake. In the village of Jolo, a pregnant woman nears her delivery date with dangerously high blood pressure. However, the area midwife had been called away to work in the district hospital.
Dr Bayugo comments: “This woman definitely needs medical care. With the mobile clinic we can assist and monitor her condition. Then we can inform the nearby health centre so she can be attended to immediately when the time comes.”
In response to the high demand for qualified health workers, Merlin has expanded its’ mobile medical team. Dr Richard Villar, an orthopaedic surgeon from Cambridge who is part of Merlin’s emergency response team, joined the mobile clinic in Bantul on June 1st and began treating patients with bone fractures the following day. The team was also joined by midwife Wafi Nur Maslihatun.
Dr Bayugo comments: “One of the greatest challenges of the relief effort has been reaching people in rural areas; working with the mobile clinic has been very rewarding and we can see the immediate results of our work.”
Dr. Jaka, the head of the health centre in Kretek sub-district, Bantul, has warmly welcomed the Merlin team: “We are thankful that your medics are willing to work with us and have faith in our health centre.”