MAJORCAN doctor Miguel Angel Ramon, co-ordinater of a humanitarian aid project as part of the Médicos del Mundo charity (Doctors of the World), said in Palma yesterday that the well-organised emergency aid in southeast Asia has saved the population from malnutrition and from severe epidemics. The main priority now is to offer psychological attention to the victims of the earthquake, especially to the children, he added.
Doctor Ramon has spent five weeks in Calang, which is the nearest town to the epicentre of the earthquake (80 kms away). Only ten percent of the 6'000 population survived the tsunami. Most of the victims were women and children who were at home at the time. Dr Ramon has been co-ordinating a project for mobile clinics. He has been part of Médicos del Mundo for the last 11 years and during this time he has never seen such a huge tragedy. “A natural phenomenon has not caused so much destruction and human suffering during the last 100 years”, he said. “At the medical centres you realise that people are carrying this tragedy around with them. I would guess that around 80 percent of the survivors have lost their families, their houses and their jobs. When I ask them what medical problems they have, they say that they can not sleep and they have not eaten since the tsunami hit the region,” Ramon said. “The destruction to this area was absolute, no bridges remain, no roads, no schools, no flats. Calang was destroyed and the remaining population had to be taken to refugee camps”, he added. The main aim of the Médicos del Mundo project is to start a psychological service, as well as offering pediatric and midwife services. As part of the project, they have already begun assessing the mental and physical health of the children who survived in Calang. They have found that 90 percent of them are still scared, have phobias and have problems adapting to family and social situations, Ramon highlighted. The biggest tragedy in Calang is that a third of the victims were children and another third were women, “there are more parents without children than orphans, and more widowed men then women.”