NEWS RELEASE #10: MERCY Malaysia begins building shelters and toilets in Palu

Kuala Lumpur, 14 October 2018…After two weeks of mobile clinics and distributions of food and non-food items at tsunami and earthquake-struck Palu and Donggala, MERCY Malaysia has started the construction of temporary shelters and communal toilets for the affected communities. The organisation will, however, continue supporting medical services through its local partner, MER-C Indonesia, at the same time begin psychosocial services.

Last week, the organisation has also successfully established a Type 1 Field Hospital at Sibalaya Utara at Sigi district, which will support the existing health services at the Puskesmas or distric clinic. The district Puskesmas will now be upgraded to a main Puskesmas because the road leading to the main puskesmas was destroyed.

“Like all other buildings that are still standing, there are cracks on the walls of the Sibalaya Utara Puskesmas. Even visitors like us were nervous when entering the building, what more the patients who have to spend a few hours waiting in line,” says Dr Shalimar Abdullah, MERCY Malaysia’s EMT logistic specialist and Vice President III.

As a result, patients would rather seek treatment under tarpaulin tents or the Field Clinic in case there are aftershocks from the earlier earthquakes. That also explains the popularity of the Naval Hospital, which was overwhelmed with patients since it docked at the Palu port on 3 October.

Sigi, the site of soil liquefaction and earthquake, had claimed the lives of 200 teenagers who were participating in a church activity. Another 50 families are still missing, and are now assumed dead as search and rescue activities officially ended on 11 Oct, last Thursday.

MERCY Malaysia is currently building two sets of communal 3-in-1 toilets at a site opposite the Sigi Market where 700 displaced people, including 200 children, are currently staying. The community of 101 families had been sharing one single toilet since the last two weeks.

“Currently, the excrement is collected in plastic bags and dumped in the surroundings. The two sets of communal toilets, each with a toilet, wash area and shower, will provide real relief to the communities here,” states team leader Norazam Ab Samah.

“The toilets will also reduce the risk of infectious diseases, with some children already beginning to experience diarrhea,” adds Dr Shalimar. There is also a need to address the indiscriminate disposal of household rubbish, which is creating a stench which could attract flies and become breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Plans are underway to build 150 to 200 temporary shelters at the area to provide a comfortable living space for the next 6-18 months.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations collected are at RM506,525.63(as of 11 October 2018).

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

NEWS RELEASE #9:MERCY Malaysia identifies Sigi for Field Hospital site

Kuala Lumpur, 10 October 2018…With the assets for the Field Hospital arriving in Palu today, MERCY Malaysia will focus on the setting up of the medical facilities within the coming week. Sibalaya Utara, located 31 km away from Kota Palu, has been identified as the site for the Field Hospital as it is among the worst-hit areas.

Despite the challenging circumstances, the Malaysian-based NGO’s humanitarian aid at disaster-struck Palu has been smooth-sailing, thanks to a standing partnership with the AHA Centre (ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management), and a sound working relationship with Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara (NADMA).

“At ground level, we are also working with and through NGO partners, such as PKPU Human Initiative, Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER_C), Rumah Sakit Umum Sis. Al Jufri and the local Rumah Sakit (district clinics),” explains Dato’ Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, President of MERCY Malaysia.

In the aftermath of the Palu earthquake and tsunami, the government of Indonesia had earlier released a statement of the assistance required, which included heavy equipment, medical supplies, shelter kits and ready-to-eat foods. MERCY Malaysia’s response plan was then catered to that request, adds Dr Faizal.

The establishment of a Field Hospital at the worst-hit areas of Palu, he added, MERCY Malaysia had abided by the regulations of sending only medical assets and equipment.

“We respect the local government’s directive not to send any medical personnel because they have enough manpower on the island,” says Dr Faizal. “Indonesia is no stranger to natural disasters like this, and has sufficient capacity to manage with their local expertise. As foreigners, we can only play a supporting role to fill any missing gaps.”

MERCY Malaysia currently has 9 medical personnel and 4 non-medical personnel in Palu, conducting mobile clinics at hard-to-reach places on the island. In the following week, the Emergency Medical Team (EMT) will assist to establish the field hospital and provide training to the local medical team for continued management.

The organisation today distributed Hygiene Kits to 113 families from Desa Loli Saluran and Kecamatan Banawa in the Donggala district. Each kit contains soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shavers, sanitary napkins, underwear and towels for a family of four.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations collected are at RM498,258.63, with RM256,843.92 being spent to date.

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chan Li Jin        E: lijin.chan@mercy.org.my  /    M:+6012-325 2067

NEWS RELEASE #8: MERCY Malaysia leads NGO coordination efforts to Palu 

Kuala Lumpur, 9 October 2018… Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara (NADMA) coordinated the deployment of humanitarian assistance to disaster-struck Central Sulawesi, with MERCY Malaysia tasked to facilitate the distributions of relief items upon arrival. Four Malaysian NGOs – MERCY Malaysia, Disaster Aid, Yayasan Inai and Volunteer Malaysia (formerly known as IM4U) – had been involved in this joint partnership.

A total of 4,416 kgs of relief items comprising medical items, feminine care products, personal care products, sleeping bags and temporary shelters were sent off by TUDM’s C-130 at the Subang Royal Malaysia Air Force Base at 5 pm.

MERCY Malaysia’s items consisted of assets for the establishment of a Field Hospital, which will be set up at an area in Palu which has yet to receive medical care. Many areas still do not have access to medical services because the roads or bridges have crashed. Many people are also afraid of going to the hospital because they do not want to see dead bodies.

The EMT team had yesterday visited Sigi, one of the worst-hit areas which had experienced a rare geographical phenomenon known as ‘liquefaction’. This is where the soil practically melted away in wave-like motions. The liquefaction had totally changed the landscape of the area, with a corn field that was previously located on a hill top now located at the foothill where a paddy field used to be.

The paddy field is now nowhere to be seen, and local authorities have reported that an estimated 5,000 people are still unaccountable for in that area.

Meanwhile, the medical team continued conducting mobile clinics to two or three different locations daily. Yesterday, 95 patients were treated for various conditions, the most common being injuries, cold and colds, respiratory and skin infections.

With logistics and transportation still a major problem, the team used whatever resources and areas to set up clinics, sometimes at the homes of villagers, mosques, open fields, even under a tree by the sea. Patients in the town area even visit the medical team at night back at the base camp at Donggala to seek help for their medical conditions.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations collected stand at RM461,107.53, with RM211,114 being spent to date.

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chan Li Jin        E: lijin.chan@mercy.org.my  /    M:+6012-325 2067

NEWS RELEASE #7: MERCY Malaysia overwhelmed with requests from caring Malaysians

Kuala Lumpur, 8 October 2018… MERCY Malaysia has been overwhelmed with calls and emails from caring Malaysians ten days into the Palu and Donggala earthquake and tsunami that has claimed 1,763 lives to date. Many have offered to collect old clothes, donate mineral water or other items as a show of solidarity with our Sulawesi neighbours.

However, the non-governmental and non-profit organisation has been unable to accept donations in kind as logistics and transportation remains a major problem in disaster-struck Sulawesi. As fuel and energy are costly and scarce at the moment, the costs of everything have increased by several folds.

On top of flight charges, there are also customs charges and other fees that make it hugely uneconomical to bring aid items across, advises Norazam Ab Samah, MERCY Malaysia’s executive council member and team leader of the Palu relief response.

For the same reason, requests from concerned people who would like to assist MERCY Malaysia at the tsunami and earthquake affected areas could not be fulfilled for now. Norazam explains that the medical team, who is currently conducting mobile clinics and has treated over 400 patients across 6 towns, does not have the capacity to attend to additional team members.

The people in Palu urgently need essential items such as shelter, food, water and personal care items, which are best purchased locally to help revive the economy, he advises. Norazam speaks from his recent experience from the Lombok earthquake, where the farming population suffered huge losses when their produce were not collected by traders for sale.

He urges caring Malaysians to be creative in extending assistance to those affected, such as raising funds through a charity car wash, holding a fund-raising movie night or passing the hat around in their local community. The funds can then be transmitted to NGOs already on the ground to build shelter kits, purchase food packs and hygiene items, plus provide medical care to people in hard-to-reach places in Palu.

As of today, MERCY Malaysia has a team of 13 on the ground, conducting medical clinics, assessments for Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and aid distributions. The EMT this morning donated spinal block (anesthetic medications for lower limbs) to Indonesian NGO Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) for 60 patients to help in their surgeries. Plans are underway to donate tents, hospital beds, toilet and suture sets and medications for the setting up of a Field Hospital.

“Several locations have been identified as potential sites,” states Prof Dr Shalimar Abdullah, MERCY Malaysia’s Vice President II and an EMT medical logistics specialist. “It will likely be at an area which has yet to receive medical care due to its remote location or being cut off after the earthquake destroyed major road systems.”

With 67,000 houses damaged and 71,000 people displaced, plans are underway for the building of transit homes, locally known as ‘Rumah Senyum’. Allocations for these homes are based on priority, with single mothers, senior citizens and families with young children and disabled persons given priority.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chan Li Jin        E: lijin.chan@mercy.org.my  /    M:+6012-325 2067

NEWS RELEASE #6: MERCY Malaysia’s mobile clinics bring healing to Palu

Kuala Lumpur, 7 October 2018…MERCY Malaysia deployed three Emergency Medical Team (EMT) specialists to Palu today to assist in the establishment of a Field Hospital following the earthquake and tsunami that happened on 28 Sept.

As of 6 October, Indonesia’s national disaster management agency, BNPB, reports 1,649 deaths. A further 2,550 people are seriously injured, while 265 people are still missing.

The EMT specialists, consisting of Prof Dr Shalimar Abdullah, Dr Lai Fui Boon and Dr Shahridan Mohd Fathil, will assess existing hospital services and facilities. Dr Shalimar, who also an experienced medical logistician, will also advise on the mobilising of medical equipment, and setting up of the Field Hospital in Palu.

Currently, there are nine hospitals, one field hospitals and four naval hospital ships are providing health services in the affected districts However, they are all running on limited resources, with a shortage of clean water, fuel for generator sets and lack of processing facilities for hazardous waste and toxic materials. Incubators in health clinics have also been damaged.

On top of that, accessibility and mobility are main issues. Many people are still in a state of shock, traumatised by the chain of events. Many are unable to reach the hospitals because of pain or lack of transportation from fuel shortage.

As a result, MERCY Malaysia’s mobile clinics have been gladly welcomed in the last week. To date, the medical team has travelled across 6 villages in Donggala – Silae,  Talise, Loli Oge, Loli Saluran, Loli Tesiburi and Kem Pengungsian –  to provide critical medical care.

Apart from injuries sustained while escaping the earthquake and tsunami, the team observed an increase in cough and colds, especially among children below 5. More medical supplies are currently being procured from Makassar to last the next two weeks.

Many of the villagers are afraid to go home, shares medical officer Dr Jasmine Avalani Chandrakant, so they are camping out in the open or in makeshift tarpaulin tents. With widespread destruction as far as the eye can see, says Dr Jasmine, the villagers affected try to stay positive by not thinking of their losses and cracking jokes, such as eating too much Indomee and sleeping under the stars.

Living conditions and transportation remain challenging, with food and non-food items taking 20-30 hours to arrive at Palu from Makassar. MERCY Malaysia has started distributing 100 Shelter Kits on Saturday, consisting of tarpaulin sheets, nails, wooden structures, blankets, mats, and mosquito repellent.

Meanwhile, assessments have begun for the building of transit homes, locally known as ‘Rumah Senyum’. Allocations for these homes are based on priority, with single mothers, senior citizens and families with young children and disabled persons given priority.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations to the Palu Relief Fund can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Chan Li Jin | E: lijin.chan@mercy.org.my | M:+6012-325 2067