by Nat Crewe; DRG Team Leader
Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh
Welcome to Bangladesh! The team had a rocky start to our first full day as Amy went down with a pretty severe case of food poisoning (we can only assume was from the regular dinner spot the night before), and I quickly followed after tasting some of her food!
Nevertheless, we set off in two teams – one to Burmapara refugee camp and another to Nayapara and beyond.
Team Burmapara consisted of Simon, Alex, Lily, Mel and two translators. They arrived at 1000 and took 15 minutes to walk to the temporary DRG clinic site. The team got to work straight away setting up a shelter as well as getting into treatments. Alex headed out into the camp, stopping house-to-house looking for patients. By 1030, there was already quite a lineup of potential patients. Alex returned and was effective in conducting triage and creating some kind of order. Our old friend Dr Ayub was in attendance and assisted with treatments.
Presentations consisted mainly of dehydration, malnutrition, diarrhoea and skin ailments- especially in babies and young children.
The team treated a 10 yo girl, Adija, with a gunshot wound to the right armpit. It was healing, but in such a way that it was fused to her chest wall, limiting her movement in the affected arm. She’s also been shot in the leg, but that was scarring nicely. The team cleaned the armpit wound and gave instructions on how to care for it. Under normal circumstances, she would need a visit to a plastic surgeon in order to manage the fusing issue- something that is not likely to happen. To compound the matter, both her parents did not survive the attack and hence she is in the camp alone with her brother.
In total, ‘team Burmapara’ treated 55 patients and identified a real need to keep doing house-to-house calls in order to find those people that aren’t making it to the clinics.
Team Nayapara visited pretty much the whole camp, walking throughout. The centre of the camp is well established, with quite a lot of bricks and mortar. The fringes are much more recent, but even then, are some months old. The trend now seems to be that new arrivals are mixing with old, as they seek out their family members or people they know. Therefore, the camps will have a mix of old and new medical presentations.
We treated a couple of kids who were dehydrated and suffering with a little diarrhoea, but came across nothing too serious. We pushed just south of Sabrang which is a controlled crossing point for the Rohingya people coming into Bangladesh. The army pick them up and bring them to a centralised processing point. Here they go through a triage (if required) with MSF, then onto a register station, a food station, a water station and then into trucks that take them north to the camps. Around 30-40 trucks a day at this stage- 186 families were processed this day, totalling 705 people.
My impression is that a lot of the initial major trauma has been seen or dealt with, and that now it is more chronic and general sickness. This has been backed up by other medical providers that we have engaged with.
That said, it is clear that there are still plenty of acute cases out there- those that haven’t moved from their shelters for whatever reason, and this will require roving, mobile treatment teams as we have always envisaged.