WHO: EHA Highlights Issue 6, Dec 2000

from World Health Organization
Published on 31 Dec 2000

New documents available on the EHA website:

  • Weekly Update Afghanistan, 8 December
  • Situation Update, Donor Information Conference for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 12 December
  • Updates on Iraq Northern Governorates: Water Quality, Human Resources and Education, Communicable Diseases, Hospitals, Health Planning, Child Health and Nutrition, Drugs and Essential Medical Supplies, Medical Equipment, Observation, Primary Care
  • Kosovo Health Talks n. 37 (Fed. Rep. of Yugoslavia)
  • The conflict in the Palestinian Self-Rule Areas, Update, 10 December
  • WHO Activities Concerning Humanitarian Situation on the Tajik-Afghan Border, 14 December
  • Norway and WHO Together to Restore Health Programs in War Affected Areas, press release, 12 December
  • New Politicians, Old Vulnerabilities: Serbia’s Health Crisis, Feature/WHO 198 (Fed. Rep. Yug.)

For comments and further information on the content of this bulletin, please contact: Silvia Ferazzi, EHA External Relation, tel. +41 22 7912707, e-mail: ferazzis@who.ch

Assistance to Yugoslavia Beyond Winter and the Emergency. A donor information conference was organized by EHA on 12 December in Belgrade to present the 2001 priorities for health sector development in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In the short term, international donors are invited to bridge the deficit of essential drugs, equipment and materials. But, in a longer term perspective, programmes need to address the root problems of the health system: as highlighted in the donor briefing, where investors choose to place their money now will have a durable impact on the health status of the population.

WHO plans encompass a series of priority intervention areas, such as coordination of health assistance, health reform, health information, the pharmaceutical system, field presence, baseline health data, drug supplies, medical equipment, communicable diseases, care of elderly persons and other vulnerable groups, medical equipment, emergency units and laboratories, non communicable disease (particularly heart disease and cancer), tuberculosis control, food safety, peace through health.

A few donors, namely the European Agency for Reconstruction, ECHO, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden, have already committed themselves to fund some of these activities. Within this broad programme framework, core emergency health activities of WHO in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are shown in the 2001 UN consolidated inter-agency appeal for south-eastern Europe (total requirements are US$ 5.72 million, while the separate Kosovo programme requires US$ 12.7 million).
For information: Edouard Kossenko, EHA, tel. +41 22 7912755, e-mail:kossenkoe@who.ch

Humanitarian Aid and Health on the Political Agenda in Sierra Leone. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan met UN humanitarian agencies in Sierra Leone on 2 and 3 December. The WHO representative briefed him about the work of the UN humanitarian agencies operating in the country. Discussions are also being held about the resumption of humanitarian aid in rebel-controlled areas, following the ceasefire signed in Abuja in early November. A first formal meeting between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and representatives of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone took place at the beginning of December, where the WHO plan for sub-national national immunization days in rebel areas was well received by the RUF representatives. WHO in Sierra Leone supports child immunization services in accessible areas and carries out polio eradication campaigns also including rebel-controlled regions: over 50,000 children, for example, have recently been immunized in the rebel strongholds of Makeni and Magburaka. Other WHO activities in the recently launched UN consolidated appeal for Sierra Leone focus on essential health and nutrition, communicable diseases, reproductive health, malaria, safe blood transfusions, HIV/AIDS and mental health. Total requirements are US$ 1,994,300.
For information: EHA: Rayana Bu Hakah, tel. +41 22 7913748, e-mail; buhakahr@who.ch

"Oil for Food" Extended with More Emphasis on Humanitarian Aid. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution further extending by six months the Iraq "oil-for-food" programme. The resolution has reduced the proportion of revenue used to compensate the victims of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait from 30 to 25 percent, and has provided for the use of the difference for humanitarian projects addressing the needs of the most vulnerable groups in Iraq. Updates on the health-related humanitarian situation in Iraq are available on the EHA website (http://www.who.int/eha/disasters).
For information: Paolo Piva, EHA, tel. +41 22 7912702, e-mail: pivap@who.ch

Meeting on Communicable Disease Surveillance and Emergencies. A WHO technical meeting on communicable disease surveillance in emergencies was organized on 13 and 14 December by the WHO Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response. The main objectives of the meeting, which was attended by participants from various WHO departments and organizations involved in emergency interventions, were to review surveillance and early warning systems implemented in emergency situations, reach a common understanding of methodologies for data collection and analysis and strengthen the network of implementing partners. EHA made some presentations that stressed the importance of WHO core commitments in emergencies and analyzed decision-making processes. The EHA focal points from Indonesia and Liberia contributed with their experiences to the panel discussion on lessons learnt.
For information: Maire Connolly, CSR/CDS, tel. 7913691, e-mail: connollym@who.int

December contributions for WHO emergency appeals

  • Belgium (pledge): EURO 122,875 (US$ 105,228) for control of priority communicable diseases in Ethiopia
  • Norway: US$ 344,496 in-kind for TB control in Afghanistan
  • Norway: US$ 86,000 in cash for TB control in Afghanistan
  • Norway: US$ 426,390 for DRC
  • Norway (pledge): NOK 3.367.000 (US$ 372,400) for health system rehabilitation in war-affected areas of the Tigray and Afar regions (Ethiopia)
  • Norway (pledge): NOK 3 million (US$ 331,800) for humanitarian health assistance to the Palestinian Self-rule Areas and Occupied Territories
  • Norway (pledge): NOK 2 million (US$ 217,000) for strengthening peripheral laboratories in the Republic of the Congo
  • Sweden: SEK 2 million (205,600) for Cambodia

FOCUS on Yellow Fever in West Africa

Epidemic Spreading from Liberia to Sierra Leone Averted ... After controlling the August 2000 yellow fever outbreak in the Cap Mount county in Liberia, WHO and health partners prevented any possible diffusion across the borders into Sierra Leone. In his analysis of the situation and lessons learnt, the WHO representative in Sierra Leone emphasized that the success has been due to a number of important factors: among others, the areas concerned are accessible, though insecure, good cooperation was established between WHO, the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Médecins sans Frontières Belgium and France, good cross-border communication mechanisms were maintained, also thanks to ECHO-funded NGOs. This partnership allowed to prioritize areas for urgent coverage, coordinate vaccine procurement and carry out joint training, including by using material procured via internet by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

...While Deadly Outbreak in Guinea Raises Concerns. A yellow fever epidemic in north-western Guinea has left some 200 persons dead as of 27 December. Health workers have vaccinated 100,000 people and are working to immunize some other 200,000. Guinea is characterized by instability, environmental degradation and high numbers of internally displaced and refugees, all conditions that facilitate the diffusion of the disease. Spreading of the epidemic into Sierra Leone seems at this point in time more difficult to control than it was the case with the outbreak in Liberia, since the Sierra Leone bordering area, located at some 50 km from the closest reported cases in Guinea, is under RUF control.

Regional Appeal to Improve Coordination of Health Assistance. The countries of the West Africa sub-region are at risk not only because of the yellow fever epidemic, but also because of other infectious diseases that continue to affect the general population, IDPs and refugees. Among them, malaria, cholera, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid and haemorragic fever, as well as HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, are a main concern for health workers. Tuberculosis also needs special attention because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, while malnutrition is another major health problem. This year, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia will be part of a WHO emergency programme for West Africa, aimed at reinforcing health coordination in the sub-region, exchange of critical health information, analysis of cross-country needs and resources and stockpiling of essential medical items in key strategic areas. The total value of the sub-regional appeal is US$ 1,749,000 (not including the requirements for Sierra Leone, which is the object of a separate UN appeal).
For information: Rayana Bu Hakah, EHA, tel. +41 22 7913748, e-mail: buhakahr@who.ch

The WHO Humanitarian Assistance Office in Skopje is implementing a project aimed at providing alternative solutions to mental hospitals for persons needing post-trauma support and long-term mental health care. The programme organizes training for mental health staff and promotes the establishment of community services, protected living environments and social activities to counter stigma and segregation.

To support the project, the office has produced, in collaboration with authors from various countries of the region, a CD of contemporary Balkan music, "BalkAmalgam".

Copies of the CD can be obtained from EHA Geneva.

The mission of the WHO Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action is to increase, through a concerted effort across WHO, the capacity and self-reliance of countries in the prevention of disasters, preparation for emergencies, mitigation of their health consequences, and the creation of a synergy between emergency action and sustainable development.