The first half of 2019 was marked by epidemics as the country passed the epidemic threshold of malaria, declared its second cholera outbreak of the year, and is actively reinforcing its preparedness to Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
In the first half 2019, a total of 77,935 children (48,343 boys; 29,592 girls) accessed critical protection services, including temporary emergency shelter, psychosocial support, release from detention, family tracing and reunification, medical support, as well as access to education and reintegration opportunities.
From January to June, 21,879 new cases of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have been admitted and treated in health facilities supported by UNICEF.
A total of 1,302,457 people, more than half children, were reached with key life-saving messages on Ebola.
UNICEF mobilized 55 per cent of 2019 Humanitarian Action for Children funding to respond to the most essential needs of children and women in Burundi
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
Despite some improvements in the past year, the socio-political situation in Burundi remains precarious and the humanitarian situation fragile. In 2019, 1.77 million people are in need humanitarian assistance in Burundi. With 710,000 persons targeted for assistance in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2019 (HRP), the situation of the most vulnerable persons still shows persistent needs and is expected to be aggravated by natural disasters (floods, landslides, rainfall deficit - in some parts of the country), population movements, epidemics including cholera and peaks of malaria, and the risk of cross border spread of Ebola. As of June 2019, only 30 per cent of the total of funding requirement estimated at US$ 106.3 million, has been received by partners.
A total of 347,110 people, half of whom are children, have found refuge in neighbouring countries, mainly in Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda. Since 2017, 72,720 people (57 per cent children), have also returned to Burundi through the ongoing voluntary repatriation process, led by UNHCR within the tripartite agreement with the Governments of Burundi and Tanzania (UNHCR, June 2019). 14,104 Burundian refugees have been assisted to voluntarily return so far as of 30 June 2019. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) registered in 18 provinces continues to decrease and now stands at 115,708 people (60 per cent children) (IOM, May 2019).
In March 2019, the Government of Burundi, with the Ministry of Health (MoH) as lead, and key health partners including the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, reviewed and updated the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) contingency plan that was drafted in 2018 in response to the high risk of cross-border transmission from the DRC. The budget for preparedness was also revised to ensure availability of funds for gaps identified. Challenges remain in coordination of preparedness at the district level and in setting up appropriate infrastructure and operational mechanisms for readiness to handle potential cases. Since May 2018, the National Taskforce for EVD has mobilized US$ 7.2 million to implement the preparedness plan, which represents 42 per cent of the revised planned budget (US$ 17.2 million in total). Implementation of the plan continues with focus on communication, health, protection, education, nutrition and WASH interventions. Permanent surveillance of travelers entering Burundi is in place in 21 priority health districts at the borders with DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania. There are permanent MoH staff present in 19 out of the 23 border entry points who continue to screen the body temperature of individuals crossing. As of 23 June, 2,249,368 people were screened, and 18 alerts investigated by MoH, with all turning out to be negative.
There has been a significant increase in malaria cases and deaths over the past 15 weeks, compared to surveillance data from the previous two years. According to epidemiological data from MoH, the cumulative number of malaria cases reported during the first 25 weeks of 2019 is 4,088,217 cases with 1,556 deaths. For the same period in 2018, MoH registered 2,475,581 cases and 1,221 deaths. With this trend, malaria remains the top health emergency priority in Burundi.
As of 17 June, 34 out of the 46 health districts of the country had exceeded the epidemic threshold and six others were above the alert threshold. In other words, only six districts have a normal surveillance trend. Besides, the country continues to experience sporadic cholera outbreak with 32 cases recorded between week 22 and 25 after nine weeks without a case.
Due to this epidemiological situation, the fight against water borne diseases and malaria remains the priority for the Health Sector. UNICEF continues to provide technical and financial support to MoH responding to the situation of cholera and malaria, as well as other main killers of children.
Starting from January to March 2019, the province of Kirundo faced a rain deficit, which worsened the existing food security challenges at the family level and further compromised the nutritional status of children. A nutrition response plan was developed and implemented in addition to ongoing nutrition interventions in Kirundo and neighboring provinces (Cankuzo and Ruyigi). Response in Kirundo included active mass screening, and the pre-positioning of additional nutrition supplies, mainly RUTF, at district level to respond to an increase in SAM admissions. Nutrition sector partners (CONCERN, WFP, UNICEF, International Medical Corps) are part of this emergency response.