Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 272, 14 - 20 Sep 2009

from World Health Organization
Published on 20 Sep 2009 View Original
Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on critical health-related activities in countries where there are humanitarian crises. Drawing on the various WHO programmes, contributions cover activities from field and country offices and the support provided by WHO regional offices and headquarters. The mandate of the WHO departments specifically concerned with Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Crises is to increase the effectiveness of the WHO contribution to crisis preparedness and response, transition and recovery. This note, which is not exhaustive, is designed for operational use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


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Assessments and Events

- Heavy rains that began in West Africa in June 2009 have so far affected at least eight countries with flood waters, affecting about 600 000 people and causing 159 deaths up until 10 September.

- The first countries affected by flooding in July were Benin and Togo, where 20 000 people and 7500 people respectively were affected. Most have found refuge with family.

- Burkina Faso: Severe rains affected about 150 000 people with 8 deaths. Approximately 48 000 people are sheltering in temporary accommodation and about 40 000 with relatives. Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, one electrical plant and one of the main water purification plants have also been damaged.

- Ghana: Flooding has affected about 55 000 people across the country with 24 deaths.

- Niger: A dam in Dabaga broke causing flooding of Agadez city. Three deaths have been reported along with the destruction of schools, administrative buildings, roads and livestock. The initial assessment reported over 79 000 people affected.

- Mali: Eleven deaths have been reported and 2700 people affected.

- Senegal: heavy rains have affected about 30 000 families (more than 250, 000 people).

- Sierra Leone: Authorities reported 103 deaths due to floods and landslides with 450 houses destroyed over 2400 acres of farmland covered with flood water. Areas of the city with very poor sanitation and limited access to healthcare are among flooded areas.

- So far no major communicable disease outbreaks have been recorded in affected countries, but there have been reported increases in malaria and diarrhoeal disease cases.


- In response to the health needs, WHO has been supporting health ministries and UN partners in conducting health assessments, coordinating the activities of health partners and providing needed medical supplies

- WHO has sent the following supplies:

- Burkina Faso: One interagency emergency health kit IEHK (basic medicines capable of treating 10 000 people for three months) and two diarrhoeal disease kits (200 severe cholera cases, 800 moderate cases and 200 adults and 200 children affected by Shigella dysentery). Three IEHK and two diarrhoeal disease kits have been ordered. A vehicle to enable WHO staff to undertake health surveillance activities has been purchased.

- Niger: Basic and anti-malarial medicines to treat 20 000 people for three months

- Senegal: One IEHK

- Sierra Leone: Basic and anti-malarial medicines for 3000 people for three months

- WHO staff are participating in health assessments and surveillance of epidemic-prone diseases

- WHO is coordinating activities of health partners within the humanitarian cluster approach.

- WHO is supporting refresher courses and guideline sharing to deal with water-borne diseases.

- WHO's West Africa Emergency and Humanitarian Action Intercountry Support Team is sharing tools for health assessments related to health response and coordination of health providers.

- WHO's 2009 emergency activities in Burkina Faso were supported with CERF funding and activities in Niger were funded by Belgium, the CERF and France.