As the death toll continues to climb following a massive May 12 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province, Oxfam is rushing $1 million worth of supplies to remote areas not yet reached by others in an effort to help prevent the outbreak of disease.
"Having secured an arrangement with government units to provide relief in remote areas, Oxfam's five relief teams are putting all of our resources into helping people stranded in rural areas away from the epicenter," said John Sayer, director general of Oxfam Hong Kong.
Oxfam has now committed more than $3.2 million to an initial effort that has commanded response from around the world as headlines continue to bear bad news: A week after the 7.9 magnitude quake struck, Reuters is reporting that 34,000 have died and 30,000 others remain missing; 4.8 million people have lost their homes; and Sichuan Province alone is facing $9.6 billion in economic losses. Hundreds of aftershocks and heavy rain have brought further devastation, including landslides that have reportedly killed 158 relief workers struggling to repair roads in recent days.
"Oxfam is teaming up with medical and hygiene professionals and working in and around the city of Mianyang to prevent an epidemic from starting," said Sayer. Oxfam is also carrying out disease monitoring, control, and prevention in Guangyuan and Zhenzhong.
The organization is concentrating on securing an adequate supply of drinking water for survivors as well as helping to provide safe sanitation services, and carrying out public health education.
Oxfam's first shipment of goods reached Dujiangyin and Guangyuan on Monday. A second shipment is due to reach Qingchuan on Tuesday.
Among the health-related goods Oxfam is sending into the region are portable toilets, intestinal drugs, first aid materials, face masks, and sanitary supplies for women. It has also provided clothing and high-energy biscuits.
Five villages in Gansu Province will also be getting a delivery of aid that will include tents, flour, oil, blankets, and milk powder. The goods will help meet the needs of 3,000 people in Wudu County.
Oxfam, which has more than 20 years experience working in mainland China, is now working alongside the Civil Affairs Department, the Poverty Alleviation and Development Office, several mainland-based aid groups, medical schools, and a variety of volunteer groups.
Additionally, the organization is preparing to reach remote areas of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.