Mercy Malaysia has begun constructing temporary shelters and communal toilets for local residents more than two weeks after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the town of Palu and Donggala regency.
Mercy Malaysia’s emergency medical team logistic specialist and VP III Dr Shalimar Abdullah said the non-governmental organisation (NGO) has established a Type 1 field hospital at Sibalaya Utara in Sigi district last week, which will support the existing health services at puskesmas (district clinic).
“Like all other buildings that are still standing, there are cracks on the walls of the Sibalaya Utara puskesmas. Even visitors like us are nervous when entering the building, what more the patients who have to spend a few hours waiting in line,” she said in a statement issued recently.
According to Mercy Malaysia, the puskesmas will now be upgraded to a main district clinic as the road leading to the former puskesmas is destroyed.
“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 has been overwhelmed with patients since it docked at the Palu port on Oct 3,” the statement read.
In addition, Mercy Malaysia is building two sets of communal three-in-one toilets at a site in front of the Sigi market, which houses 700 displaced people including 200 children.
The community of 101 families have been sharing one single toilet over the last two weeks.
“Currently, the excrement is collected in plastic bags and dumped in the surroundings. The two sets of communal toilets — each comes with a toilet, wash area and shower — will provide a real relief to the community here,” said Mercy Malaysia’s mission team leader Norazam Ab Samah.
Echoing his view, Dr Shalimar said there is also a need to address the indiscriminate disposal of household rubbish, which has been creating a stench that could attract flies and become breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“The toilets will also reduce the risk of infectious diseases since some children have begun experiencing diarrhoea,” Dr Shalimar added.
Mercy Malaysia also said the NGO plans to build between 150 and 200 temporary shelters in the area to provide a comfortable living space for the next six to 18 months.
The organisation will continue to support medical services through local partner, MER-C Indonesia, and begin psychosocial services, it noted.