Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 196 - 18 to 24 Feb 2008

from World Health Organization
Published on 24 Feb 2008
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 internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and Events

- Reports indicate that the IDPs are leaving the camps in the Rift Valley and moving to their place of family origin. Humanitarian needs are therefore expanding, as more communities are touched.

- After the Rift Valley province and Nairobi, pressure on infrastructures such as water and sanitation, socioeconomic distress and risk of disease are now increasing also in Nyanza, Western Kenya and Central Province. Demand for health care is expected to increase proportionally.

- The latest figures are of 347 000 IDPs and 12 000 refugees in Uganda.

- Aid agencies report a reduction in political violence as of 15 February. However, the security situation remains volatile.


- WHO teams are present in Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.

- The WHO teams are participating in coordination meetings, conducting assessment missions to IDP camps and providing support to the MOH.

- WHO organized a health response review meeting which brought together Ministry of Health representatives from central, district and provincial level along with donors and NGOs. In spite of all of the difficulties, systems are still functioning and provincial and district services are still working. The major conclusion of this meeting is that the MOH and donors urged NGOs to support provincial and district teams.

- WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA obtained US$ 634 000 from the CERF for immediate life-saving activities. WHO is participating in the Flash Appeal and has received funds from the CERF and a statement of interest from Australia.


Assessments and Events

- The country has been experiencing prolonged, extreme cold temperatures in combination with an energy supply crisis. The main hydropower stations don't have enough water to run their turbines and frozen pipes have left health facilities and much of the population without water.

- Half the health facilities in four major districts report power shortages and complete blackouts, with interior temperatures around zero. Essential life-saving services like intensive care units and operating theatres are out of commission.

- Minimal power supplies jeopardize the functioning of urban water systems and there are concerns about water-borne epidemics.

- A typhoid fever outbreak with an estimated 200 cases and at least six deaths is being investigated by WHO.

- The severe weather destroyed the potato harvest , and WFP estimates that half a million people are unable to afford even minimum food purchases.


- UNICEF and WHO have responded providing blankets, petrol and food.

- WHO sent an EHA staff member to provide technical support for the response.

- The Regional Director for WHO in Europe visited the country on 18 - 20 February. He highlights priority interventions to minimize the health impact of the cold wave:

  • Strengthen coordination and disease surveillance and medical and nursing care;
  • Ensure critical energy supply for key priority health facilities;
  • Support the MOH in procuring and distributing essential drugs and consumables for maintenance of health services.
- WHO participates in the Flash Appeal coordinated by the UN Country Team, and requests funds for extra basic and supplementary kits and the maintenance of the cold chain.

- WHO has received a Rapid Response grant for US$ 250 000 from the CERF.