India Uncut

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Despatches 7: Medical problems, and psychological ones

The tsunami is long over, but disease is taking a heavy toll. Every day hundreds of people die in in the hospitals and relief camps of Tamil Nadu. The most common medical problems among survivors, according to doctors we spoke to, are:

1. Injuries suffered while running away from the waves in panic, bumping into debris, getting caught up in fishing nets and trees, and being swept by the waves into hard objects.
2. Cholera
3. Swallowing sea water
4. Lack of proper hygeine
5. Babies without their mothers, who are not given adequate nutrition.

Groups from all over the country have come here to help counter this, but according to Madhu Kumar, there is one basic service that they are not providing: counselling.

"More than 50% of recovery depends on counselling," he tells us. "These people are psychologically shattered. More than just their belongings, they have lost their livelihood."

We run into Kumar in Pandalasalia, in the district of Nagore, where he is leading a relief team from the Neyveli Lignite Corporation. "These people have no place to stay," he tells us, "and they are in such trauma at the event that they just want to leave, to go far away from the sea. Not just their bodies but also their mind has been affected."
amit varma, 10:23 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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