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Progress Report

Indian Medical Teams in Albania for Kosovo Refugee Relief

Progress report as at 4th June 1999

1.    A possible peace deal does not diminish the on-going needs of the refugee population in Northern Albania. 

2.    The first SADP/EHA team, now more than half way through their tour, are continuing to give excellent and innovative service, seven days a week - taking a day off by rotation. 

3.    An average of 200 patients are treated by them each day in the assigned camps in Shkodra. 

4.    Changes in UNHCR and NATO policy has reduced the flow of refugees travelling south through the railhead, to a few hundred per day.   Their medical needs continue to be met. 

5.    During the past week a fresh medical need has arisen with the arrival of newly released prisoners from Serbian prisons and camps.   They are suffering with exhaustion, dehydration, minor trauma and are suffering psychologically to a much greater extent than those settled in the camps. 

6.    The EHA team have established new initiatives as a result of excellent relations with the Government of Albania, and other relief agencies.

6.1.    Dr Shah and Dr Gnanaraj are regularly undertaking surgical operations on refugees in the Government hospital at the invitation of the Medical Superintendent.

6.2.     Non-functioning laboratory and diagnostic equipment has been re-commissioned by Gladwin Dass, the laboratory technologist enabling improved diagnosis for the refugees admitted to the Government hospital.

6.3.    Cases for plastic surgery have been booked in advance for Dr Bareto, the specialist arriving in EHA’s second team.

6.4.    Dr Helen Thomas, the Obstretician attends regularly, by invitation, the Italian Government run camp, to care for pregnant women. 

7.    A comprehensive survey of the health needs of the refugees in Shkodra has been undertaken with the help of Albanian translators.   This vital information will be published in a paper by Dr Anil Cherian and Dr Gnanaraj. 

8.    UNHCR Director, Mr Bashir (from Pakistan) is particularly appreciative and has strongly urged EHA to register as an international relief agency in it’s own right with both the Government of Albania and the UNHCR.   Initial application has been made with the Government of Albania in Tirana. 

9.    EHA has agreed to the request of North West Medical Teams International to restructure the next team into two groups.  The first is expected to arrive in Rome on 18th June, led by Dr Ann Thyle. 

10.World Food Programme, an NGO, working alongside the EHA team has offered flights by their private aircraft, free of charge, from Rome to Tirana for the second team.  This mark of appreciation for the contribution of the EHA team will mean the team from India will arrive much less tired to start work than the first team. 

11.Surveys and clinic experience shows that one of the greatest unmet needs is dental care.  EHA is keen to bring dentists from India to address this need.  SADP is approaching DENTAID, the specialist agency in the UK, requesting the supply of a re-conditioned dental surgery.

 12.The above represents just a little of what has been achieved in just fifteen days.

Paul East

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