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Fam Med. 2005 Jun;37(6):422-8.

Medical needs of tsunami disaster refugee camps.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Pusan University, Pusan, Korea.



In response to the massive tsunami disaster in South Asia, two Korean medical relief teams provided emergency medical care in the southern coastal area of Sri Lanka. Their findings are reported here to provide a realistic picture of medical needs created by the tsunami disaster and to enable a better-prepared medical response to future disasters of this type.


All victims of the tsunami in the area of operation of the two medical relief teams were encouraged to receive medical care. Care provided to each victim was documented in individual medical records. All medical records were reviewed and classified by age, gender, and diagnosis.


A total of 4,710 people were treated by the two Korean medical relief teams for 9 days of operation in southern Sri Lanka. Respiratory problems were common, but diarrhea was diagnosed in an average of only 4.3 patients per day. Minor skin trauma and wound infection in the extremities were frequent as long as 3 weeks after the disaster. The proportion of skin trauma in relation to total trauma decreased as days elapsed from the disaster.


Because of the provision of adequate quantities of potable water, the likelihood of waterborne diarrhea was low. Acute respiratory problems and chronic problems were prevalent in tsunami refugee camps. Despite concerted international relief efforts, inadequate treatment of minor skin trauma and skin infections was evident.

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