Pacific Island countries, some of which rise just a few meters above sea level, comprise one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change. The nature-based livelihoods and diverse cultures of these island nations are being challenged, and in some cases overwhelmed, by rising sea levels, air and ocean temperatures, acidification, and shifting rainfall and storm patterns - effects of climate change that are projected to worsen over the next 100 years.
Climate forecasters are predicting below normal rainfall levels for several Pacific Island nations over the next three months on top of an already unusually dry period.
New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) says New Caledonia and Vanuatu, which have recently experienced well below normal rainfall levels in some areas, will continue to experience below normal levels.
In what might be a slight reprieve for Papua New Guinea, which has borne the brunt of El Niño, the forecast is for normal or below normal rainfall.
Six months after Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu, UNICEF conducted an After Action Review (AAR). In order to prevent duplication, the AAR built on UNICEF’s participation in the Cluster, Provincial and National Lessons Learnt exercises, which focused on the response to Cyclone Pam ‘on the ground’. Instead, the AAR looked at how well UNICEF used its internal procedures to support a strong response for disaster-affected children in the Pacific. Documentation from the Cluster and National Lessons Leant exercises were reviewed as well as collecting the views of UNICEF staff and partners.
An Emergency Committee was convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) on 1 February 2016. Following the advice of the Committee, the Director-General announced the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurologic disorders reported in Brazil to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
A regional tsunami warning exercise involving sixteen* countries of the Pacific is currently taking place from 1 to 5 February to provide participants with the opportunity to test and give feedback on the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center (NWPTAC) enhanced forecasting products.
Between 28 and 31 Jan, flooding was reported in both Sumatra and Java. Approximately 2,600 houses were inundated for days and at least six bridges connecting villages in Aceh were damaged. This is in addition to the 4,900 houses that were inundated the previous week and where water has now receded.
Local authorities reported no casualties and provided basic relief assistance.
2,600 houses inundadated
60 million PEOPLE WILL BE AFFECTED BY EL NIÑO IN THE FOUR MOST AFFECTED REGIONS
2.8 million PEOPLE REQUIRE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS
10.2 million PEOPLE IN NEED OF EMERGENCY FOOD IN ETHIOPIA
14 million FOOD INSECURE PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA – EXCLUDING SOUTH AFRICA
El Niño status
The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals on active public health threats. This issue covers the period 24-30 January 2016 and includes updates on Zika virus, Ebola virus disease and MERS.
Background and purpose
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has as its **Strategic Objective 5** to “Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”. In support of its national counterparts, FAO aims to address the current and future needs of vulnerable people affected by the 2015‒2016 El Niño event.
The following syndromes have been flagged: - Acute Fever and Rash: French Polynesia, Palau - Diarrhoea: Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga - Influenza-like illness: Solomon Islands - Prolonged fever: Solomon Islands
Zika virus - Tonga: There has been an increase in the number of suspected zika cases reported in the week ending 17 and 24 January 2016. Two out of nine samples sent to the LabPlus NZ, were RT-PCR positive for Zika virus.
Genetic diversity of livestock can help feed a hotter, harsher world
Despite growing interest in safeguarding biodiversity of livestock and poultry,genetic erosion continues
Total affected population: 2.3 million
Total affected children (under 18): 1.4 million
Total people to be reached in 2016: 85,000
Total children to be reached in 2016: 51,000
2016 programme targets
800 children aged 6 to 59 months with global acute malnutrition identified and referred, including 120 children treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM)
48,000 children under 5 years received micronutrient supplementation
• Zika virus is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis.
• Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days. The disease has similar clinical signs to dengue, and may be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
The following syndromes have been flagged:
Acute Fever and Rash: French Polynesia, Palau
Diarrhoea: Solomon Islands
El Niño threatens at least 60 million people in high-risk developing countries, WHO says
Geneva, 22 January 2016—The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners predict a major global increase in health consequences of emergencies this year due to El Niño.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Ula will start to weaken as it moves south from Vanuatu after spending the past 13 days impacting countries across the Pacific. The cyclone passed close to the southern islands of Vanuatu as a Category 4 system on 10 Jan bringing heavy rain, some localised flooding, crop damage and heavy seas. Assessments are underway but there are no reports of major damage and there have been no requests for international assistance.
The following syndromes have been flagged:
Diarrhoea: Solomon Islands, Tonga
Solomon Islands: Rotavirus outbreak continues. It appears that nationally the outbreak has plateaued, although case numbers may still be increasing in some provinces. Six deaths (4 children and 2 adults) have been reported to have died of a diarrhoeal illness during the outbreak. These deaths are being investigated to determine which deaths are attributable to the complications of rotavirus gastroenteritis.
Solomon Islands health authorities have confirmed six children have died in an outbreak of diarrhoea that's spread across six provinces and they're warning it's not yet reached its peak.
The outbreak is believed to have begun back in November but has spread across the country during the annual Christmas and New Year travel.
Dr Chris Becha, the Ministry of Health's emergency and operations committee chair, says while they're working to contain the outbreak, it's feared the worst is perhaps not yet over.
7 January 2016 – Briefing United Nations Member States today on the wildly varied and devastating impacts of the current El Niño weather phenomenon – which for months has sparked massive floods in some countries while leaving others, often in the same region, bone dry – the top UN relief official urged the international community to act now to help millions of people facing food insecurity.