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February 14, 2005

Dr. Fiona: Sarvodaya Health Clinic



Hendala Palliyawatte Church
Saturday 12th February 2005
Report by Dr Fiona Smith

I participated in one of two medical clinics set up to treat local people affected by the tsunami in a district north of Colombo. These clinics were coordinated by the Gampaha District Sarvodaya centre, with volunteers from the Sarvodaya Shanti Sena unit as staff.

I spent the day helping seven Sri Lankan doctors and a number of other volunteers who dispensed the medicines we prescribed and provided wound care. We worked under the porch of a church with only basic medical equipment such as our stethoscopes and blood pressure machines…. A far cry from the sophistication I am used to in the UK. Despite this we were able to treat most people satisfactorily and had a good range of donated medicines at our disposal.

The clinic started somewhat slowly but the message soon got out that we there and before long we were very busy. It was mainly women with children and the elderly who turned up for assistance, waiting patiently in turn to be seen. We must have treated over three hundred people in one clinic alone that day.

The most common conditions diagnosed in the children were bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. The adults were affected by the same illnesses in addition to needing medication for diabetes and high blood pressure. Fortunately there was not a single case of diarrhoea reported. The volunteers at the wound care bench were kept busy with cleaning and dressing infected cuts and grazes.

Apart from physical ailments many people were also suffering from stress and anxiety-related problems following the tsunami. For these problems a listening ear, loving support and a smile was the best treatment we could give them at the time. Obviously these people are in need of trauma counselling and psycho-spiritual healing in the long term. This will be provided by Sarvodaya volunteers in the future, but our hope today was by showing support and compassion we could at least start the healing process on its way.

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.