All the Wrong Ingredients

Singapore — A front page article in The International Herald Tribune quotes health officials in Indonesia concerned about the possibility of outbreaks of cholera, malaria and intestinal diseases. The wrong ingredients are all coming together–toxic mud, contaminated pools of surface water, afternoon monsoonal rains, extremely difficult sanitary conditions.

These
are breeding grounds for bacteria and malaria-carrying
mosquitos.

By some estimates 400,000
people are dislocated in Indonesia alone. I have not read an estimate for the
region. But in each case similar conditions
prevail.

Add to the physical
circumstances the fact that these are people who have gone through a major
traumatizing event, they are in shock and grief, they are physically exhausted,
their immune systems are compromised by stress and they must cope in a natural
environment lacking in basic
sanitation.

It’s a truly dangerous
mixture of all the wrong
ingredients.

When the Rev. Paul
Dirdak, head of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, asked the Indonesian
Methodist Church leaders about their priorities for meeting the crisis their
answer was quick and decisive. They needed medications. After seeing the
conditions, I understand their
decisiveness.

With medications it
will be difficult to battle even the most simple wounds and prevent infections
from turning into life-threatening illnesses. Without them it would be
hopeless.

The Rev. Randy Day,
General Secretary of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, told me he
is concerned that malaria is an overlooked killer throughout the tropical
developing world. The toll taken by malaria is equal to, if not greater, than
HIV/AIDS.

His concern upon seeing
the standing pools of contaminated water is that they are perfect breeding
grounds for malaria-bearing
mosquitos.

While no outbreak has yet
occurred, the caution of officials is wise. In these conditions diseases can
move through a population with remarkable speed. Preventive efforts taken now
with backup in the form of antibiotics and other medications will without doubt
save lives.

UMCOR has information
about medicine
boxes
on its website. They contain all the right
ingredients.

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