When Cyclone Idai caused catastrophic damage and a severe humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, Sheba dispatched a team to provide acute care.

Cyclone Idai hitting Mozambique

In March 2019, Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Idai – one of the most destructive southern hemisphere cyclones of the last 100 years. Cyclone Idai caused catastrophic damage and a severe humanitarian crisis, displacing 1,850,000 people from Mozambique with over 600 killed, 1,600 injured, and 2,000 missing. 

In the wake of the disaster, Sheba’s Humanitarian and Disaster Response Center (HDRC) reacted quickly, dispatching a joint medical and surgical team led by its Director, Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, within 48 hours. The team consisted of physicians, nurses as well as members of ISRA-AID, Israel’s largest humanitarian NGO, which contributed psychosocial support and water treatment experts. 

“The destruction and loss of life were devastating. Mozambique was left with a public health emergency and a huge number of displaced persons,” said Prof. Bar-On. “Waterborne diseases were the biggest danger, but we assessed needs on a day-by-day basis and worked hard to ensure that we were as effective as possible.”

After landing in Beira, Mozambique’s second-largest city, Sheba’s team joined forces with an Italian aid mission that set up a field hospital to provide acute care, manned a UN cholera facility, and performed helicopter-borne missions to outlying areas isolated by the storm.

Another member of the team concluded: “We chose the medical field out of a sense of mission and giving, and places like this underscore the significance of our choices.”

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