MSF first started working in Indonesia in October 1995, when it provided emergency aid to the victims of a devastating earthquake in Kerinci, Sumatra. Since then, MSF responded to various natural disasters and epidemics. In March 2009, MSF withdrew due to the Indonesian government’s increased capacity to deal with natural disasters.
Before the withdrawal, MSF had worked throughout Indonesia including in former conflict zones such as Aceh and Ambon. Teams provided treatment and medication for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, as well as general healthcare, surgery, vaccination campaigns, sanitation programmes and training for staff.
After the Asian tsunami in 2004, MSF refurbished 28 health facilities, conducted more than 40,000 medical consultations and provided 2,000 individual counselling sessions.
In 2008 it was clear that the Indonesian government’s capacity to deal with natural disasters had considerably increased. Most internal conflicts had been resolved or had subsided and a large proportion of the previously displaced people had been able to resettle. Therefore the MSF projects were handed over to local authorities and partners, a process that was completed by March 2009.
On September 30, a powerful earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra leaving more than 1,000 people dead. MSF returned temporarily to provide survivors with emergency medical assistance via mobile clinics in some of the most neglected rural areas, and water and sanitation services and psychological care. Teams distributed essential relief items such as hygiene kits, kitchen utensils, blankets, mats and plastic sheeting to 1,600 families.