DR Congo + 4 more

Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 233, 03 to 09 Nov 2008

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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 operational use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

- More information is available from WHO's call for more aid for the victims. See also the monthly bulletin and the monthly Cluster Update.

- On 7 November, the UN Secretary-General attended a regional summit in Nairobi to discuss the crisis.

- An IASC Principals consultation took place on 3 November. The Global Health Cluster met on 4 and 7 November. On 7 November the Humanitarian Liaison Working Group in Geneva updated on the latest developments.

- According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, there are about 1 million IDPs in North Kivu. According to UNHCR, many of the newly displaced are IDPs displaced for a second time.

Assessments and Events

- The number of people newly displaced by the recent fighting is estimated at 250 000 but figures are tentative as people continue to move looking for safety and assistance. Refugees mostly cross into Uganda, at the rate of about 100/day.

- Health facilities in Rutshuru, which had been restocked on 3 November, may have been looted during renewed fighting.

- The recent escalation of violence has been followed by an increase in reported cholera and measles cases and related deaths. Both can spread rapidly within displaced populations if adequate health care is unavailable. Close to 80% of the population is not vaccinated against measles. On 4 November, six cholera cases were admitted to Kirotshe general hospital and one in Goma hospital.

- At least 1 million people are threatened by violence as well as by lack of clean water, food and health care. For health sector partners, priorities include a) expanding access to care, b) strengthening surveillance, c) immunizing children against measles and polio and distributing vitamin A.

Actions

- WHO's plan of operations for affected populations in North and South Kivu, focuses on cholera, measles and polio as well as on access to health care, particularly for an estimated 100 000 expectant mothers and 500 000 children under five.

- On 5 November, WHO conducted assessments in Rutshuru, currently under the control of the rebels. MSF-France and local health authorities have re-opened the dispensaries to ensure health care to displaced people that have left Kiwandja for Rutshuru. Merlin distributed medical kits on 7 November.

- From its stock in Goma, WHO provided 300 litres of Ringer lactate and perfusion equipment to the general hospital in Kirotshe for the management of cholera cases.

- Norway and Italy provided a combined total of 61 tonnes of medicines, enough to treat up to 340 000 people for diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, trauma and other conditions for a month. Norway is also sending eight sets of water purification equipment to ensure the availability of clean water in health facilities. With the support of WFP, WHO will fly the supplies into neighbouring countries and then truck them into the affected areas.

- An international WHO/EHA staff has reached Goma to strengthen the WHO Office. Staff from AFRO, HAC and ARO in headquarters are also being deployed to provide operational support.

- WHO's preliminary estimate of costs for this crisis are around US$ 2.5 million for the next three months. Other WHO emergency activities in the DRC are funded by Finland, Italy, Norway, the CERF and the Pooled Fund for the DRC.