Malawi deploys mobile clinics for cyclone-affected children

Malawi deploys mobile clinics for cyclone-affected children

At least 1,000 people were killed when Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi in March. The cyclone’s floodwaters swamped medical facilities, forcing people to either walk long distances for health care or go without. In Malawi, the U.N. Children’s Fund has deployed mobile clinics to evacuation camps to meet those medical needs.

Margret Chapweteka and her six family members have been at Nainunje evacuation camp since early March, when Cyclone Idai’s floodwaters destroyed their house.

But she complains of poor living conditions and the nearby clinic often running out of medicine she needs for her baby.

She says this is not a good place to live; there are no toilets, there are no mosquito nets, there is almost nothing there. She says wishes they were given some start-up materials so that they could return to their homes.

The U.N. Children’s Fund is deploying mobile clinics to flood-affected areas. UNICEF says it will meet the health needs of not only children in the cyclone-hit areas, but also adults.

Health Specialist Steve Macheso, who responsible for the emergency response at UNICEF Malawi, says the clinics keep track of the numbers of those affected and provide a broad array of services.

“After the first assessment, we had 7,000 as a target number of children to receive our services. So, we are planning around that for immunization services, malnutrition screening and everything. But that number has likely increased over time and we are actually updating this data to have a good view of how many children are affected,” Macheso said.

Medical workers say the children here suffer from malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition.

While the medical care is appreciated, flood survivor Flossy Reuben says camp residents are only able to get food by working for nearby farms.

She says the problem is they are given relief items they already have – like plastic buckets, sanitizers for drinking water and tents – while their greatest need is food.

alawi and U.N. agencies admit food shortages are a critical problem in the cyclone-affected areas. Malawi is seeking an additional $25 million in aid to meet those basic needs.

Authorities say they will begin closing the evacuation camps in May.