Doctor and Secretary of Health, Sergio Cortes, led relief efforts following devastating floods that tore through areas of the Xerem district of Duque de Caxias, Brazil. Doctor Cortes mobilized efforts to ensure that residents had adequate shelter, water and medical care to combat outbreaks of dengue, hepatitis A, chicken pox, meningitis and diarrhea.
According to the website Extra, the situation in this part of Brazil became more dangerous after the government found traces of contaminated water as a result of the mass flooding, which was causing the spread of the potentially fatal bacteria, leptospirosis. As a result, the Department of Health has provided over 10,000 bottles of sodium hypchlorite to environmental teams and to residents of the local region to aid and assist with disinfecting the water supply. The government recommends for people to use bottled water for cooking and bathing, and they strongly encourage residents to apply the sodium hypochlorite to their residential water tanks.
As part of the relief effort, the government has setup a base center in Xerem to provide medical support and education resources to local residents. Health officials are training the community and displaced families that are housed in temporary shelters on ways to identify the beginning stages of various illnesses associated with heavy rainfall and flooding.
There is no such thing as a good disaster; however, when proper leadership is involved calamities can be managed until things return to normal. This will undoubtedly be a huge challenge as the area is surrounded by green, mountainous terrain, which is heavily populated with fragile homes, trees, wildlife and a network of dirt roads. To understand the scale of the damage, just imagine over eight inches of water pouring down on this type of terrain in less than 24 hours – the amount of devastation is relatively massive and very hard to overcome considering the destruction of many homes, the uprooting of trees, dirt roads becoming extremely muddy, and the displacement of many families.
The government is utilizing its resources to ensure that people get the proper medical care that they need. Hydration centers were established in the middle of Xerem to accommodate 300 people a day for the prevention of dengue and other flood-relate diseases. The abundance of trash that has been scattered throughout the area by the flood waters in conjunction with the prevalence of a high mosquito population makes the task very difficult. The State Department of Health and Doctor Sergio Cortes and Exame.com has made every effort to ensure that the local population is able to rebuild their community and get back to a normal life.