WHO: EHA Highlights Issue 4, Oct 2000

Report
from World Health Organization
Published on 31 Oct 2000


New documents available on the EHA website:

  • Findings and Recommendations of the Mission to Kenya and Ethiopia of the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on the Drought in the Horn of Africa, 17-23 September
  • Health Services for the drought-affected populations in the Somali National Regional State (Gode, Denan and Jijiga), Ethiopia, 3-12 September (Mission Report)
  • Emergency Consultancy in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia), 3 June/3 October, End of Mission Report
  • Afghanistan Weekly Updates, 20-25-29 October
  • Kosovo Health Talks n.35 (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
  • Health Situation Report, Maluku Islands, 14.8 (Indonesia)
  • Belgrade Health Talks n.11 (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
  • Belgrade Health Talks n.12 (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
  • WHO Southern Sudan Health Update, September
  • Montenegro Health Talks n.17 (Fed. Rep. of Yugoslavia)
  • East Timor Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin, n. 39 and 40
  • The Road Ahead, EHA Speech at the Fifth Asia-Pacific Conference on Disaster Medicine, Vancouver, 27/30.9 (under Key Policy Documents)
  • Disaster Reduction, Health and Civil Protection, EHA Paper at the ICDO Ministerial Conference "Civil Defence, a Tool for Sustainable Development", Geneva, 30.10/1.11, (http://www.who.int/repo/eha/ftp/17026.doc)
  • Developing WHO’s Evaluation Function in Emergencies, EHA Programme Brief (http://www.who.int/eha/disasters/tgeval.shtml)

October contributions for WHO emergency appeals
  • Italy: US$ 85,000 in trauma kits for Palestine
  • Italy: US$ 100,000 for San Salvador (dengue epidemic)
  • The Netherlands: US$ 202,400 for Maluku (August pledge)
  • Norway (pledge): NOK 3 million (US$ 335,700) for Afghanistan
  • OCHA (pledge): US$ 50,000 for Cambodia
  • USA (pledge): US$ 125,000 for Eritrea
  • USA (pledge): US$ 993,270 for malaria in complex emergencies
    For comments and further information on the content of this bulletin, please contact:: Silvia Ferazzi, EHA External Relations, ferazzis@who.int, tel. +41 22 7912707

Could the Ebola outbreak have been prevented in Uganda? The death toll from the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Uganda, which was first reported mid-October in the northern Gulu district, has now risen to 75, while the number of known cases is 239 (as of 31 October).

Experts from WHO, the US Center for Disease Control and Médecins sans Frontières are helping the Ugandan authorities, while Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan have stepped up surveillance to prevent possible spreading of the disease across the borders.

WHO has just appealed for US$ 850,000 in emergency support to contain the current outbreak. In fact, the WHO component of the 2000 UN consolidated appeal for Uganda, which was prepared by the inter-agency country team in November last year, already highlighted the need for establishing preventive epidemic surveillance, water quality monitoring, training of health workers and community education in the northern and western Uganda, and requested US$ 256,000 to undertake these activities. Unfortunately, the appeal was left completely unfunded. The UN country team is now preparing a new consolidated appeal for the year 2001, where WHO will appeal for some US$ 600,000 for prevention and control of epidemic diseases, while a request of some US$ 550,000 will be put forward to prevent and control HIV/AIDS.
For information: Khalid Shibib, EHA, tel. +41 22 7912988, e-mail: shibibk@who.ch

Health as a Bridge for Peace in Indonesia. WHO and the Indonesian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare organized a workshop on Health as a Bridge for Peace on 16-21 October in Yogyakarta. The seminar, financed by DFID and New Zealand, provided a basis to build the skills of health workers in this critical conflict-affected region on issues such as human rights, international humanitarian law, medical ethics, negotiation, conflict analysis and conflict resolution. Representatives from Aceh, West Papua, West Timor, Central Java, Swlawesi and Maluku islands were present. As part of the EHA effort in active training of health professionals, the Health as a Bridge for Peace programme aims to identify actions and strategies that can maximize the peace building effects of health programmes implemented in areas prone to conflict or undergoing a post-conflict transition.
For information: Alessandro Loretti, EHA, tel. +41 22 7912750, e-mail: lorettia@who.ch

Donor meeting on emergency health activities. Some 30 missions in Geneva participated in a meeting organized by EHA on 26 October to discuss WHO’s approach to emergencies, current strategies and future plans. As part of the follow-up to the meeting, EHA plans now to finalize a “questions and answers” sheet for donor and WHO partners and to draw up and publish a global “appeal” on emergency health activities at the beginning of next year, as a common planning and fundraising platform.
For information: Yonas Tegegn, EHA, 7912722, tegegny@who.ch, or Silvia Ferazzi, EHA, 7912707, ferazzis@who.ch

New Emergency Appeals Launched by EHA

UN inter-agency donor alert for the drought in Tajikistan

WHO focus: coordination of emergency health assistance, control of communicable diseases and malaria, nutrition and water quality testing.

WHO requirements: US$ 799,000.

UN inter-agency appeal for emergency relief and initial rehabilitation in response to the Cambodia floods

WHO focus: immediate health needs, with particular attention to displaced persons, re-establishment of essential health services, detection and response to disease outbreaks.

WHO requirements: US$ 577,000.

UN inter-agency appeal for emergency relief and initial rehabilitation. Vietnam floods

WHO focus: Prevention and control of outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

WHO requirements: US$ 820,000.

WHO international appeal for the prevention and control of Rift Valley Fever in Yemen

Focus: control of the outbreak in Yemen, prevention of further expansion within Yemen and to neighbouring countries.

Requirements: US$ 975,000.

WHO Project for health coordination at Myanmar/Thailand border

Focus: public health promotion, including advocacy for secure humanitarian access, cross-border transmission of public health best practices, coordination of health initiatives and dissemination of health information

Requirements: US$ 407,000.

FOCUS: The Health Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Targeted low-cost interventions can save lives. Following her 17-23 September mission to Kenya and Ethiopia, Catherine Bertini, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, presented her report at the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs. She emphazised that poor resourcing of the non-food requirements of the regional UN appeal, particularly in the health sector, is a cause for serious concern. Financing of relatively low-cost water and health interventions, Ms. Bertini said, would be instrumental in preventing the deterioration of the health and nutrition situation during the rainy season in October, with its increased risks for malaria and diarrhoeal disease outbreaks.

Health coordination is a priority. Mohamed W. Dualeh, WHO Special Public Health Adviser to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Horn of Africa, who traveled to southeast Ethiopia in the same period, reiterated in a recent report that, while the current humanitarian strategy is primarily food-driven, there is a clear need for greater support to health care services and to other vital sectors. Poor sanitation, inadequate clean water supplies and low-quality housing in densely populated areas increase the risk of a rapid spread of diseases. The interaction between infections and malnutrition explains in turn the high rates of morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases, particularly among young children. International and local relief organizations are massively present in certain locations and absent in others, thus encouraging the population to migrate into the best served towns and villages. The overall coordination among UN agencies and NGOs operating in the area is well structured, Mr. Dualeh said, but standardization of procedures and sound policies for health interventions is a priority to address, in a situation where international and local agencies’ response is characterized by varied approaches and capacities.

Nutritional surveillance for better prioritization. The lack of a comprehensive surveillance system and of suitable coordination mechanisms in the health sector cannot but result in ineffective response: this is one of the main findings contained in the report (just released) of Albertien van der Veen, EHA nutritional consultant, from her three-month assessment mission carried out in the areas of Ethiopia and Somalia most affected by the drought. The report highlights a particularly difficult situation in Ethiopia, where the lack of a comprehensive nutrition surveillance system has resulted in the failure in identifying the different causes behind the malnutrition, and consequently in targeting food aid to the most vulnerable and in adjusting priorities according to the real needs. While the incidence of communicable diseases is high, local health structures are weak and few agencies have thus far attempted to enhance local health capacity. Instead, nearly all nutrition interventions are set up as parallel systems and sometimes they even draw away staff from governmental health facilities. At the regional level, outbreak surveillance systems also remain to materialise, with the exception of Southern Sudan and, recently, Somalia. The report concludes by recommending, inter alia, that surveillance be set up as soon as possible in Ethiopia, which is the most centrally located country of the Horn of Africa. At the regional level, it is also recommended that nutritional surveillance be included in the WHO Horn of Africa Initiative, which already covers outbreak surveillance and training of health staff, and that staff from WHO and FAO continue to be seconded to the Office of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator to ensure that the inter-agency, regional cooperation process goes beyond information sharing to address effectively, among others, the crucial issues of malnutrition and disease prevention and response.
These reports are available on the EHA website. For information: Lianne Kuppens, EHA, +41 22 7912516, e-mail: kuppensl@who.ch

Funding coverage of WHO activities in the UN Appeal for the Horn of Africa Drought, as of 31 October 2000 Horn of Africa Regional Programme: 6.6%
Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda: 0.0%
Ethiopia (including IDP appeal: 2.8%
Somalia * 15.2%
Eritrea 24.7%
* Including re-programmed funds from Italy