Health and education for the most vulnerable.
The Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 1986 led to the radioactive contamination of large areas of Russia, Belarus, Moldova and the Ukraine. 25 years later, an earthquake triggered the devastating nuclear reactor disaster in Fukushima. Since then, 8% of Japan’s land has been contaminated with radiation. Furthermore, the use of the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War led to tens of thousands of km2 being contaminated with dioxin over a long period of time.
Around 10 million people (Chernobyl Case Studies) in Moldova, Russia, Belarus, the Ukraine and Japan are still living on contaminated land decades later. In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, millions of people have become indirect victims of the Vietnam War following the use of the Agent Orange herbicide. The disabilities caused by this herbicide will continue to persist in the population for generations.
Through its Social and Medical Care Programme, Green Cross supports the worst affected people by helping them to help themselves – especially children, young people and mothers. The environmental organisation provides medical, psychological and educational measures to improve the living conditions of children, young adults and families living in areas contaminated with radioactivity and chemicals:
Therapy camps for children and young people Children and young people spend at least 4 weeks living in healthy air with clean food and comprehensive medical care in order to boost their immune systems and mental state. Exposure to radiation is reduced by between 30 and 80% as a result. Before and after the camps, the children are provided with medical care where they live by mobile medical and care teams.
Mother and child project Recuperation for mothers and small children including psychological and medical care. Mothers are given the chance to attend nutrition courses on how to handle contaminated food.
Orthopaedic treatment in Vietnam Children affected by Agent Orange are provided with orthopaedic care to ensure that they are able to walk again and gain an education.
The Social and Medical Care Programme is led by Maria Vitagliano. Green Cross Switzerland is working to implement the International Social Medicine Programme along with the national Green Cross organisation in Japan, Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, with the non-governmental organisations Echo of Chernobyl and Healthy Family and the community of Onitskani in Moldova and with ULSA/Vietcot (University of Labor and Social Affairs) in Vietnam. The partners in Laos are the Ministry for Health, the Ministry for Defence, the Water Resources and Environment Administration (WREA) and environmental specialists from Canadian company Hatfield Consultants. In Cambodia, collaboration takes place via the non-governmental organisation Wathnakpheap.