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AMERICARES: Health Care After a Deadly Earthquake

Edy Irianto / Americares

Fadliah clutched her 4-day-old baby as dirty water rose quickly around her. In Palu City, Indonesia, an earthquake had triggered a tsunami, collapsing Fadliah’s house and sending a muddy wave over her and her tiny boy.

Once she was safe in a neighbor’s car, the young mother cleaned mud from her baby’s mouth, relieved to see him breathing. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake on September 28, 2018, killed more than 4,000 people, destroyed 70,000 homes, and wrecked roads and bridges.

Americares responded immediately, working alongside local health organizations to quickly set up and equip 15 emergency women’s health centers near where Fadliah and other homeless survivors sought shelter in tents. Fadliah brought her little boy for checkups every couple of weeks.

Americares trained over 400 health workers, including midwives, in mental health and psychosocial care, knowing that every patient had experienced the trauma of the earthquake, which in one area had turned soil to quicksand, swallowing homes and people.

Now, Americares is making sure that thousands of women continue to have the health care they need by replacing the emergency health centers with more stable structures designed to last three years. One such building had just barely opened when it saw three healthy babies born in just 72 hours.

“Each new baby is a sign of how much these health centers are needed,” says Americares Vice President of Emergency Programs Kate Dischino. Permanent health centers will be built when the government decides where it is safe for people to relocate.

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