May 23, 2008 – TORONTO/ VANCOUVER: Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT) learned this morning of Myanmar’s acceptance of foreign aid workers into the country. The Military Junta government had been refusing these workers for nearly three weeks, since Cyclone Nargis hit the nation on May 2, 2008 killing nearly 80,000 people.
“We are relieved that the Government of Myanmar has finally accepted the assistance from their international counterparts,” Valerie Rzepka, CMAT Executive Director said today. “This level of devastation would be overwhelming for any government to cope with.”
CMAT will continue monitor the situation in Myanmar, and has the ability to deploy several rotations of medical teams (doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, paramedics) to any affected region, along with a fully equipped, inflatable field hospital, in order to provide basic primary health care and some trauma care.
“One of CMAT’s strengths is the ability to be flexible,” Rzepka continued. “This means that should the field hospital be needed in a different location, it is able to be packed up and moved within an hour. We are firmly dedicated to building capacity in the communities we assist, and so any project we initiate will only be in direct partnership with local authorities and with the support and permission of the host government. Where ever they feel our skills are needed the most, that is where we will deploy to.”
CMAT has developed a strong working relationship with the Burma Cyclone Relief Committee in Toronto (contact: Zaw Wai Kyaw) and encourages donors to be very generous.
In Sichuan, China, local officials indicated that the greatest need at present is for shelter in the form of tents and cots (beds). Funds gathered by CMAT for projects in China will be used towards the purchase and distribution of these shelter items.
Contributions towards projects both in Myanmar and China can be made securely online at: www.canadianmedicalteams.org