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Dünya Doktorları/Médecins du Monde Türkiye urges to continue and intensify health measures to prevent earthquake-related epidemics of infectious diseases

Although sanitary measures have started in the earthquake affected area, they still remain insufficient. Experts said infectious diseases are on the rise and it can cause epidemics if serious precautions are not taken.

After 19 days of the two devastating earthquakes that affect at least 10 Turkish Provinces, the number of people who lost their lives in Türkiye reached 44.000, while thousands more are injured. The total number of people affected by the earthquake, however, looks set to increase for a considerable amount of time. Indeed, first cases of rabies and scabies have been seen in the affected regions which poses a risk of epidemics of infectious diseases.

Unhygienic conditions, living in groups in shelters and use of contaminated water increase the risk of spreading highly contagious diseases such as scabies, measles, tetanus and water-borne diseases. Asbestos and dust caused by debris are inhaled by everyone in the region and pose a serious threat in terms of respiratory diseases. Experts also draw attention to the risk of rabies epidemics in the earthquake-affected areas. These infectious diseases can appear during a period which can last from 4 days to 4 weeks after the earthquake occurs, and they can spread very quickly into epidemics if effective measures are not taken immediately.

Supplies of critical vaccines – including tetanus and rabies – have been sent to the quake zone and mobile pharmacies have started operating, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health. The World Health Organization has declared in its statement on February 14 to stand with the Turkish Ministry of Health, sending 22 emergency medical teams in support of the Turkish teams.

As Dünya Doktorları/Médecins du Monde Türkiye, we welcome the measures that have been taken, and call on the public authorities and international community to intensify these measures – particularly on vaccines and necessary medications – given the area of the total region affected by the earthquakes and the spreading speed of epidemics.
Sanitary disinfection measures must be taken with the utmost care. More toilets and showers need to be placed in the area and the issue of access to clean water needs to be resolved immediately. A distribution of protective masks and medications for the treatment of disease such as scabies to all shelters is also essential.
Dünya Doktorları/Médecins du Monde Türkiye also calls on the international community and NGOs to support these efforts with funds and delivery of health and sanitary products.

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