Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 264, 13 - 19 Jul 2009

from World Health Organization
Published on 19 Jul 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.


For more information see the Health Cluster Bulletins, the Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report and the WHO Pakistan Office web site.

See also the latest press release WHO steps up emergency response to Pakistan crisis and the WHO photo gallery on the crisis.

- The Health Cluster is part of the interagency Conflict Early Recovery Initial Needs Assessment (CERINA) planned to start this week to assess the needs of IDPs and returnees in conflict-affected areas.

- A UNHCR official was killed on 16 July by unidentified gunmen in Kacha Garhi camp near Peshawar. A security guard was killed and another employee was wounded in the attack.

- WHO participated in the inter-cluster mission to Pakistan from 13-17 July.

Assessments and Events

- Concern continues regarding the provision of health care to IDP and host populations in Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi districts.

- According to the disease surveillance system, 67 000 consultations were reported in the five districts between 27 June and 3 July. Acute respiratory infections continue to be the leading cause of morbidity with 21% followed by acute diarrhoea (8%). The upcoming monsoon rains will further exacerbate health risks, particularly in crowded camps, where excess water will place increased strains on hygiene, sanitation and disease control systems.

- As of 15 July, over 20 000 IDPs have returned to Swat and Buner districts as part of a voluntary returns process organized by the Government. The increasing number of returns is highlighting the urgent need to restore the health system in conflict areas. Buner, which counted 36 facilities before the conflict began, saw one facility destroyed and 21 damaged while in Swat, at least 18 of the 80 pre-existing facilities were destroyed and 21 damaged.

- Equipment, medicines and supplies, ambulances and staff, especially female, are also needed. According to health authorities in Swat, there were 33 male doctors posted against 125 posts last April and only seven female doctors against the same number of posts. In Buner, there are only two female doctors working at in the district headquarter hospital. However, mobilizing medical staff, especially female, is a challenge due to security concerns.

- The Disease Early Warning System needs to be setup in these districts.


- WHO is supporting the MoH in guiding and coordinating emergency activities. WHO is setting standards, building capacity, identifying gaps and, where necessary, filling them as provider of last resort.

- The Health Cluster has sent 3 Mini Emergency Health Kits, 1 Cholera Kit, 1 full Italian Trauma Kit and 1 Surgical Kit to Buner district health department on 13 July as well as, 3 Mini Emergency Health Kits, 1 Cholera Kit, 1 Italian full Trauma Kit to Swat district health authorities on 14 July. Moreover, 9 Mini Emergency Health Kits were sent to different IDP camps and mobile clinics in Mardan and Charsadda districts between 8 and 14 July.

- WASH and Health Cluster partners are getting bracing the health system ahead of the monsoon season and sanitation, hygiene and water quality will need rigorous and continuous monitoring and robust coordination.

- The Health Cluster is facing shortage of funds to revitalize the disrupted health system in the conflict affected districts. WHO and health partners have received funds from the USA, Italy, Norway and DFID. ECHO has pledged funding to WHO.