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Outbreaks of disease spark fear

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  • Outbreaks of disease spark fear

    Outbreaks of disease spark fear
    of second wave of deaths in earthquake zone

    With an active volcano spewing toxic gas and lava nearby, health experts are warning that an even greater threat to the earthquake survivors in Java is the outbreak of disease and water-borne illnesses such as diarrhea, typhoid and hepatitis.

    Outbreaks of tetanus and diarrhea have been reported across the earthquake zone, and two people have already died. The earthquake destroyed sanitation systems and contaminated many safe water sources, leaving the disaster zone increasingly dangerous for the spread of disease, said Dr. Endang Widyastuti, CARE?s emergency programme coordinator in Yogyakarta.

    ?The first step is to provide safe water, but right now there is not enough,? she said. ?People do not have latrines. Water sources are becoming more contaminated. This is a huge problem. Many of these diseases can be prevented with safe water, but the donations have not come in to allow us to do our jobs. There are as many as 650,000 people left homeless, and they all need clean water.?

    Outbreaks of diarrhea are occurring in Bantul and Klaten, the two hardest-hit areas after the May 27 earthquake. Diarrhea can be extremely dangerous for young children; if not treated properly, a young child can die of dehydration within a week. Tetanus cases are also on the rise. Injured people with open wounds can become infected by sleeping outside in unclean areas or by washing the wound with contaminated water ? which makes safe water all the more critical, says Dr. Endang.

    CARE is providing water purification solution to 40,000 families in Klaten, along with jerry cans to keep the treated water free of further contamination. Families receive training on how to use the simple solution, which you add to water to purify it. One 100ml bottle is enough to purify water for a family of five for one month, and costs just 3,000 Rp (about 35 cents CAD).

    ?It is cheap to distribute, easy to use, made locally, it has proven to be effective in tsunami zones in Aceh and other parts of the world, and we are able to distribute it immediately,? said Dr. Endang.

    The emergency response after the tsunami was able to avoid an anticipated second wave of deaths because there was enough money for the government and aid agencies to respond immediately.

    ?The same kind of support should be available to the earthquake survivors in Java,? said Dr. Endang. ?And now people are dying. This does not have to happen. It should not happen. We can prevent this, but we need more funding.?

    About CARE:
    CARE is one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations, working together with the poorest communities to end poverty. CARE has been in Indonesia since 1967, and operates a broad range of integrated projects in disaster risk reduction, emergency response, environment and natural resource management, health, livelihoods and water and sanitation.