Albania Relief Update
While International Rescue Committee emergency response units focus on shelter, water and sanitation facilities for refugees, IRC medical staff members have been conducting preliminary health assessments among refugees in the Korce, Elbasan, and Burrel municipalities.
Results show that the refugees are in relatively good health, but with some instances of gastro-intestinal, and respiratory infections. Chronic diseases among the elderly have also been exacerbated by their flight from Kosovo. Health risks such as typhoid, cholera, measles, and meningitis will continue to be monitored by the health team, but are not currently in evidence.
Meanwhile the IRC is furnishing supplies to local hospitals and clinics as one way to help meet the health-care needs of both the estimated 100,000 refugees who were taken in as guest of host families, and the host families themselves.
Said Mark Bartolini of the IRC: "In many areas where we currently work, refugees are staying in the shelters we provide but are going to the homes of host families for meals and/or showers. This creates the possibility of carrying disease into the local community. And given the minimal resources currently available to the Albanian health-care system, supplemental support will be necessary to provide for the influx of refugees and to address the impact on the local community."
IRC is also distributing drugs and medical supplies through other relief agencies that are working in the northern border area, where there are an estimated 50,000-100,000 refugees.
A reproductive health specialist will arrive this week to begin an assistance program in the locations where the IRC programs are focused.
Meanwhile, an IRC counselor experienced in meeting the pyscho-social needs of refugee children has begun working with children in several refugee camps and has, as a first step, distributed recreational equipment. He will also follow up on recommendations made earlier this week by representatives of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children.