Health Action in Crises: Highlights No. 170 - 13 to 19 Aug 2007

from World Health Organization
Published on 19 Aug 2007
Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on the health aspects of selected 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 internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and events:

- On 15 August, a series of earthquakes culminating in a 7.5 magnitude quake struck off the coast of Peru, approximately 60km from the city of Pisco. So far, 510 deaths and more than 1000 injured are reported, but figures are expected to rise as search and rescue continues.

- Power and telephone services, which were interrupted by the quake, are gradually being re-established within Peru and in Lima. There have been reports of hundreds of collapsed homes in Pisco, Cañete and Chincha. Several health facilities in the department of Ica, including hospitals in Pisco and Chincha, have suffered physical damage and are operating on a limited basis.

- A tsunami warning, was issued for Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and the Pacific region but was later lifted.


- Pre-hospital care units have been deployed to the affected zone, including Ica, to assist with rescue efforts, attend to the injured and transport them to health facilities.

- In Chincha and Ica, the MoH has deployed a health team of 50 doctors, 30 nurses, 20 ambulances, a mobile operations centre and medical supplies.

- The President has requested that all hospitals run by the MoH, the armed forces and the social security system provide care at no cost to patients.

- WHO/PAHO is meeting with the UN Emergency Team and the Vice Minister of Health to assess priority relief needs.


Assessments and events:

- Since 5 August, floods caused by heavy rains have caused huge human and material damage. Preliminary information reports 214 dead, 80 missing and as many as 300 000 people homeless. Up to 30 000 homes are reported damaged and tens of thousands of hectares of farmland flooded. Rains have also destroyed railways, roads and bridges, suspended power supply and cut off the communication network.

- Flooding has hit most of the south and some of its most productive agricultural regions. The most affected regions are Kangwon, North Hwanghae, South Hamgyong, South Pyongan, South Hwanghae and the capital Pyongyang.

- The Government has appealed for international emergency aid. Priority needs include food as well as family and diarrhoeal diseases kits.


- On 14 August, the Government invited UN Agencies (UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and the UN Resident Coordinator a.i.) based in Pyongyang to participate in a needs assessment in the North Hwanghae Province. Findings indicate that around 10% of the population is displaced, 70% of the arable land flooded and half of the health clinics destroyed.

- On 16 August, the UN, NGOs and ECHO met in Pyongyang to amalgamate assessments and determine the way forward.

- Partners and donors are working together to mobilize funds and assistance.


Assessments and events:

- Floods caused by heavy seasonal rains continue in West Africa. In Benin's capital Cotonou, several people were killed and severe damage is reported. In the north of Burkina Faso, almost 10 000 have lost their houses, wells are flooded and the lack of potable water is acute. In Côte d'Ivoire, nearly 2000 people in Agboville, north of Abidjan, are struggling to find drinking water after floods s contaminated the local wells; over 1000 people are displaced. In Senegal, several hundreds of families have lost their homes and crops in the west and in Casamance . In Mauritania, flash floods in the south-eastern city of Tintane have destroyed the local health centre and washed away sanitation facilities and water pipes; 16 000 people have no access to drinking water.

- High morbidity and mortality by malaria, cholera, acute respiratory infections among children under five are being reported. Other health risks include dysentery, typhoid and malnutrition, particularly among children.


- WHO is monitoring the situation and keeping on stand-by should additional support be requested. AFRO Regional Office and headquarters are mobilizing internal resources and assisting national authorities and health partners in the mobilization of external assistance

- In Benin, WHO is assessing the situation; rapid evaluations are being organized to determine the needs.

- In Mauritania, a WHO,UNICEF and WFP mission was conducted in the affected area to assess the epidemiological and sanitation situation; a first assortment of essential drugs were provided through the mission. Besides, WHO is requesting US$ 72 000 to meet emergency needs including the provision of insecticide-treated bed nets, sanitation supplies, health kits and logisitic support.