Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 181 - 29 Oct - 04 Nov 2007

Report
from World Health Organization
Published on 04 Nov 2007
Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on critical healthrelated 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 internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.

TROPICAL STORM NOEL - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, HAITI AND CUBA

Assessments and Events

- Over 100 people are reported dead following floods and landslides triggered by the passage of Tropical Storm Noel across Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

- In the Dominican Republic, 66 are reported dead and 27 missing. Nearly 58 000 people had to evacuate their homes, while several communities are cut off. More than 13 000 homes have been damaged and bridges and roads affected. The situation surpasses local response capacity: the Civil Defense has reported that shelters are overwhelmed, with needs for food, hygiene supplies and security.

- In Haiti, 40 deaths are reported as well as many injured; several thousands people were evacuated from their homes. Flooding has been reported throughout the island and evaluations are ongoing.

- In Cuba, flooding damaged crops and homes in the eastern provinces of Las Tunas and Holguin; no deaths are reported.

- Urgent health issues include acute diarrhoea due to contamination of potable water supplies, acute respiratory infections and gastroenteritis in the short term as well as dengue, pneumonia and malnutrition in the longer term.

Actions

- The MoHs of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, WHO/PAHO, other UN agencies and humanitarian partners are in continuous contact at all levels.

- The Government of the Dominican Republic has activated an Emergency Operations Centre and organized search and rescue operations and evacuations. Local governments are supplying food to the affected population while the Department of State and Public Health sent 12 ambulances.

- WHO/PAHO has sent three extra persons from the regional response team (one watsan, one LSS one communicator) to the Dominican Republic. A LSS-SUMA team has been arranged in order to manage incoming aid.

- WHO/PAHO is supporting the national response in three areas: water and sanitation, food supply, and in shelters. Seven teams are conducting evaluations through out the country, including a MoH and WHO/PAHO team.

- In Haiti, WHO/PAHO coordinators are working to provide logistics and are assisting in evacuations in Jacmel in the south-east. Teams are in the capital and are prepared to deploy. Medicines have been pre-positioned in several provinces if needed. WHO/PAHO continues to support areas on the west coast and the northeast that were flooded by torrential rains in the beginning of October. Essential medicines were donated and health care continues to be delivered free of charge.

NICARAGUA

Assessments and Events

- Heavy rains over the past weeks have caused overflowing of rivers and flooding in several departments in Nicaragua. Eight people have drowned and two are missing.

- Approximately 24 000 people are affected in the departments of Estelí, Madriz, Chinandega, León, Managua, Masaya, Granada, Carazo, Rivas, Jinotega and Matagalpa. Some 7000 people have been evacuated.

- In Matagalpa, potable water is limited due to the destruction of the distribution network. Water sewage lines were damaged, spilling into the river. There is a possible contamination of the Río Grande by agricultural chemicals. Cases of diarrhoea, respiratory infections and headaches have been reported in Matagalpa.

Actions

- WHO/PAHO carried out a mission to the affected areas in order to support the mobilization of Medical Brigades and the anti-epidemic fight teams. Damage evaluation and needs analysis are being conducted.

- The MoH is holding medical consultations, lab exams, specialty consultations, mosquito control, delivery medicine, fumigation and purification of wells in Matalgalpa. The Government is delivering medical assistance to the affected population as well as conducting consultations with the donor community.

MEXICO

Assessments and Events

- Heavy rains over the past several days have left 855 towns flooded in the southern state of Tabasco. Nearly 70% of the territory is flooded. Approximately 300 000 people are affected and at least 147 000 persons have evacuated. Close on to 30 000 have found refuge in 256 temporary shelters.

- The Federal Government has declared an emergency.

Actions

- Health authorities are porviding medical care and no outbreaks have been reported. Health brigades are conducting damage and needs assessment and 424 doctors, nurses, sanitary engineers and other health workers have been deployed to the affected areas. Epidemiological surveillance, health promotion and cholera prevention are in place in 308 communities.

- Financial support for the affected areas will be provided by the Natural Disasters Revolving Fund (FONDEN).