Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (MSF) offers its sincere condolences to all who have been affected by the recent Australian bushfire crisis, including our supporters, volunteers, association members and field staff in Australia and abroad.
In the face of this unprecedented catastrophe in our own backyard, MSF-Australia reached out to bushfire responders and aid providers to review the current situation. Based on our experience in disaster intervention we wanted to assess if there were any unmet humanitarian needs and medical gaps we could support. The conclusion is that there are currently adequate resources to meet the humanitarian medical needs and no significant gaps have been identified for MSF to fill at this time.
What we do know from our discussions with first responders is that the health impacts of these bushfires are significant. There is a high risk of developing serious illnesses due to prolonged smoke inhalation, or mental health conditions due to the depth and length of the crisis.
The worst drought in Australian history, combined with record temperatures, has made the landscape extremely dry and vulnerable to rapidly growing bushfires. All emergency response agencies, including MSF, must adapt to respond to climate crises going forward. This has been and will continue to be a strategic priority for MSF.
We are grateful to everyone in the Australian community who has supported MSF’s responses around the world to some of the greatest medical and humanitarian crises of our time: disease outbreaks, conflicts and natural and man-made disasters. We will continue to monitor the situation and assess for opportunities to support an Australian community who has done so much to assist people living through humanitarian medical crises over the years.