Written by Nayla Barakat
Manama, Feb. 28 (BNA): Bahrain emerged as one of the first responders after the deadly earthquakes that struck Syria and Turkey, leaving behind traces of terror and catastrophe.
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health and a member of the National Committee for Supporting Earthquake Victims in Syria, and Dr. Walid Al-Manea, who visited Syria recently, said it was an honor for him to be a member of the Relief Committee.
On the sidelines of a press conference, he said, “The Ministry of Health and the people of Bahrain were the first to respond to help the two brotherly peoples and make relief efforts in the wake of such a large scale of disasters.”
He added, “We in the ministry took swift measures, following His Majesty’s directives, to send shipments of goods and relief materials to the two brotherly peoples in Syria and Turkey, following the devastating earthquakes that left thousands dead and millions homeless.”
Dr. Al-Manea said that the strategy for dealing with the affected areas is divided into three phases.
The first phase includes the shipment of medicines, surgical materials, medical equipment, and intravenous fluids.
“These medical necessities are necessary for emergencies and mainly in the first week of natural disasters and this stage also brings stability to life. Surgical tools are also very necessary to treat injuries and orthopedic conditions.
“Quick action by the Bahrain team has reduced the time between the first and second phases based on the assessment of the situation. The assessment is about what is needed more or what needs to be charged, any support for doctors and what is needed for long-term support such as hospitals, health centers, some rehabilitation and psychological support and psychological counseling.
“The ministry has to customize its checklist until we get details from other partners or countries working alongside in the affected areas. Once we receive the information, we allocate shipments to Turkey and Syria.
We have approached the authorities in both countries from time to time as soon as we receive orders from His Majesty to provide assistance to the people of both countries.
“The relief effort was a huge success because within a week or so we had sent medical supplies, we found that the infrastructure had been destroyed and facilities needed to be rebuilt.”
He said that in some areas, the infrastructure was so badly damaged that it needed immediate reconstruction especially in the field of medical care, including equipment and building diagnostic and treatment capacities in many areas in both countries.
“In a post-disaster scenario, epidemics can pose another challenge – how to control the spread of viruses, and bacteria can pose a threat to health systems in neighboring or regional countries,” said Dr. Almana.
The Ministry of Health should coordinate with the World Health Organization, the Bahraini authorities, and the governments of other countries in order to contain the potential spread of diseases that could break out in the aftermath.
The ministry has a representative on the ground to assess the situation and a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the UNHCR High Commissioner to provide support.
At the moment, the situation on the ground is very challenging because there is no infrastructure at all, no electricity supply, no water. Nothing there. Therefore, it is so far very difficult to say how long it will take to provide all support services to start running any health facility.”