Cyclone Idai causes massive flooding; communities cut off  from essential and life-saving supplies

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 22, 2019) – Following the devastating Cyclone Idai, which swept through Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe last week, Medical Teams International is sending an assessment team to Mozambique to determine how the Portland-based nonprofit can best assist in the humanitarian response.

An estimated 600,000 people are affected in Mozambique alone, and authorities fear as many as 1,000 people have died. While the cyclone is confirmed to have killed 150 people, that number is expected to rise significantly. Prior cyclone-related flooding had already displaced 17,000 people and very likely thousands more were displaced after the cyclone’s passage.

Access to flooded areas is limited or nonexistent due to damage to roads and infrastructure. People are unable to get to evacuation centers and the only source of electricity remains at the Beira airport. In terms of health needs, it is anticipated that preventing the spread of cholera and malaria will be critical, as well as providing clean water.

Today, two team members are flying to Mozambique to assess the situation around Beira city and carrying an initial supply of Emergency Health Packs with . Following the assessment, a potential team will be created based on availability and skills needed to aid in the response. Medical Teams International is working in close coordination with Integral Alliance partners Food for the Hungry, Tearfund, and Medair.

Martha Holley Newsome, Medical Teams International’s President and CEO, spent time working in Mozambique as country director and health director for World Vision, during another devastating flood in 2000.

“Health facilities get flooded and become inoperable, so basic access becomes a huge need. The hygiene and sanitation problems become acute with limited supplies of potable water, so cholera becomes a real threat,” Holley Newsome said. “Media exposure was really Mozambique’s saving grace in 2000. There were the images of a baby that was born in a tree above the floodwaters. The baby’s name was Rosa, and everything was caught live on TV. Because of those images, there was a huge outpouring of needed support, concern and resources.”

Those who wish to help those affected by the disaster can make donations online here or to Medical Teams International, P.O. Box 10, Portland, OR 97207, and can call the toll-free phone number at 800-959-4325.

Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person—physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Because every person—no matter where they are or how desperate their situation—matters. 

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