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Health Action in Crises Highlights No 152 - 2 to 8 Apr 2007

Situation Report
Originally published


Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on the health aspects of selected 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:

On 2 April, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake at sea sent a tsunami wave crashing into the country's west coast. The worst damage is reported on Gizo Island, but Choiseul, New Georgia and Shortland Islands are also affected.

The National Disaster Council in the capital, Honiara, confirmed 34 dead, several dozens missing, and 100 injured. Up to 5500 persons are displaced, currently camping in the hills with no sanitation and insufficient water supplies. They need to be urgently moved to more permanent shelters.

From Guizo, the most serious cases have been evacuated to Honiara. The local hospital was evacuated to temporary facilities in the hills. The most serious cases have been evacuation to Honiara, but proper bedding and shelters are needed for the remaining patients. The hospital's pharmacy was ruined and dressings, antiseptics and painkillers have run out.

There are reports that up to half the rural health centres have been destroyed, but the actual number and the extent of the damage is still unknown.

The Government declared a State of Emergency in the most affected areas.


National authorities are sending health staff to the affected areas to support local personnel and assess the damage, as well as tents, food and water.

The WHO Country Liaison Officer has offered WHO's assistance to the MoH. A WHO/EHA staff based in Fiji arrived in Honiara on 4 April.

The MoH set up a health sub-group for crisis response to which WHO and UNICEF are participating. The plan is to set up eight emergency units across the affected areas, four in hospitals and four in rural clinics. Each unit will be supplied with a new Interagency Emergency Health Kit, covering the needs of 10 000 people for three months. UNICEF offered assistance to support four units and WHO and others partners are making arrangements to support the remaining four.

The WHO Western Pacific Regional Office malaria and vector-borne diseases unit is coordinating prevention measures with the Country Office.

WHO has been coordinating with the MoH in monitoring the situation and has pledged support for the health sector response. WHO will be providing technical support and mobilizing resources for malaria control activities.