Türkiye: Medical care in a tent – Bundeswehr in the earthquake area

Medical care in a tent – Bundeswehr in the earthquake area

A Bundeswehr doctor takes care of a patient in the intensive care unit in the Bundeswehr mobile field hospital. photo

© Boris Roessler/dpa

The Bundeswehr is helping out in the Turkish earthquake area with a tent clinic and doctors. The mission is temporary.

A boy sits on a treatment couch in a tent in the Turkish earthquake zone. Because her son shows pustules on his cheeks and body, the mother took him to the Bundeswehr field hospital in the Turkish municipality of Altinözü. “It’s not scabies,” says the treating pediatrician Ilker Salar, who was assigned to the German troops by the Turkish Ministry of Health.

The team of around 140 has set up its camp not far from the city of Antakya to support the badly damaged health infrastructure in the region. The community hospital has been in danger of collapsing since the quake, and treatment is also being given in tents there. The Bundeswehr tent clinic currently offers the only surgical option in the region, says contingent leader and senior physician Kai Schlolaut.

The tents, arranged like tunnels, contain, among other things, an operating room, X-ray diagnostics, a pharmacy, 25 beds, three intensive care beds, a kind of emergency room and a waiting room that is well filled on this morning.

Around 100 patients come for treatment every day, says Schlolaut. The tent hospital of the Bundeswehr, which was previously in Mali or Afghanistan, has become an integral part of care in the region since its arrival in March. Colds, gastrointestinal diseases and diabetes are treated – but also care for amputations resulting from injuries from the earthquakes. Because most people live in tents and the hygiene conditions are correspondingly poor, there is a lot to do with infected wounds.

333 tons of luggage

Turkey asked for help through a NATO mechanism, and the Bundeswehr came with 333 tons of luggage. It is the 16th mission in total for senior physician Christine, but a completely different one than in the war zone. Working here is “highly motivating,” “because you have a good job.” The soldiers are supported by Turkish health workers and doctors. One of them is 27-year-old emergency doctor Bilal Ozan from Ankara. Like the pediatrician Salar, he has also been assigned to the army camp by the Turkish Ministry of Health. The Turkish teams usually stay for 17 days. Ten German soldiers who speak fluent Turkish also help with the translation. In the meantime, word has got around about the center and it is used very routinely, says Ozan.

But the deployment of the Bundeswehr is temporary. The team will probably stay until the end of May, after which the rescue center will be packed up again. It remains to be seen what will happen next for the people in the region.


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