WHO delivers emergency health supplies, funds to flood-hit DPR Korea

Pyongyang, 15 September 2016 – World Health Organization is providing emergency health supplies and funds to DPR Korea where flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains have left hundreds of thousands of people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in northern provinces.

“Many health facilities are damaged and some completely destroyed, severely hampering health services and availability of medicines for the affected population, now living in sub-optimal water and sanitation conditions and vulnerable to water borne and other diseases. Children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly are the most in need of support,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, said.

To meet immediate health needs of the affected population, WHO made available USD 175,000 from WHO South-East Asia Regional Emergency Fund (SEARHEF) within 24-hours of the request from the Ministry of Public Health. SEARHEF is WHO South-East Asia Region’s emergency funding facility.

WHO has provided medicines and medical equipment as part of the 26 emergency health kits disbursed following a joint assessment of affected areas with the Ministry of Public Health and other UN and international agencies earlier in September. Each kit can take care of health needs of 10,000 population for three months, she said.

Five tents have been provided to establish temporary hospitals in the affected areas in addition to diarrhoeal kits, water filters and water testing kits, Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

WHO, along with other UN and international agencies, is supporting the Ministry of Public Health, to meet the immediate and evolving health needs of the affected population. A Joint Assessment Mission comprising of government officials and 20 UN Humanitarian Country Team representatives from all UN agencies, including WHO, visited the affected areas from 6 September to 9 September 2016.

The focus is to make available health services for pregnant women, newborn and children; prevent outbreaks of diarrhoea, acute respiratory tract infections or measles; restore basic, primary level health care services; and meet the special health needs of vulnerable groups, she said.

In late August, typhoon Lionrock hit DPR Korea’s north east coast leading to torrential rains that triggered one of the worst flash floods and landslides in the country. Among the most affected areas are North Hamgyong Province, including the Kyonghung county, Kyongsong county, Musan county, Yonsa, Onsong county, Rason city, Hoiryong city and areas surrounding River Tuman.