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Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 275, 04 - 11 Oct 2009

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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.

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More information is available at http://www.searo.who.int/en/Section1257/Section2263/Section2341/Section2376_15174.htm

- Rescue teams are leaving the affected areas. However access to those affected in some remote areas remains a problem.

- There are 169 NGOs and seven agencies operating in Padang.

Assessments and Events

- Sumatra's 30-September earthquake has caused heavy casualties and widespread damage to the health system. As of 8 October, the MoH reported 739 dead, 2219 injured, including 863 severely, and 296 missing.

- At least 26 health facilities, including four hospitals, were damaged or destroyed. The main hospital in Padang was severely damaged and patients are being treated outside the building.

- More than 3000 health workers have been deployed by the Regional Crisis Centre in Jakarta. Sumatra's Health Department opened two mobile hospitals in the affected region and deployed more than 150 doctors. The US, Australia and Russia also opened field hospitals in affected areas.

- Health care personnel have also been dispatched to the region to monitor the emergence of outbreaks. No outbreaks have been reported so far but high rates of respiratory infections, diarrhoea and stress are reported. Potential health risks include typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea due to contaminated water sources.

Actions

- WHO is helping the MoH crisis centre coordinate the response and finalize the 90-day Operational plan. The WHO regional and country offices deployed four staff members to set up the operational platform with the MoH.

- In Padang City, WHO and partner agencies are helping the MoH organize field support to fill gaps for all affected districts and make clean water accessible to health facilities in affected areas. WHO is working with WFP to distribute medicines.

- WHO is also working with provincial and district health authorities to set up the early warning and rapid response system. Along with other governments supporting the humanitarian response, set up mobile clinics in Sei Geringging, Lubuk Kalung, Padang Pariaman sub districts and near M. Jamil Hospital.

- WHO raised US$ 175 000 to support field hospitals and is helping local health authorities establish mobile facilities and monitor disease outbreaks.

- Norway has donated medicines and equipment for 1000 surgical interventions and water purification units, each of which can provide enough water for a hospital or a small village.

- A Humanitarian Response Plan was launched on 9 October requesting US$ 36 million to help the Government respond to the damage caused by the earthquake. The Health Cluster is seeking US$ 2.5 million, of which US$ 1.5 million is for WHO.