Health action in crises - Highlights No 107 - 8 to 13 May 2006

from World Health Organization
Published on 13 May 2006 View Original
Each week, the World Health Organization Department for 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 Thursday, the National Disaster Agency said that the eruption of Mount Merapi was only a matter of time and ordered the evacuation of some 17 000 people from around the slopes of the volcano.

At the national and local levels, all agencies, ministries and institutions concerned are in a state of preparedness. The MoH has set up a crisis centre to monitor the situation and centralize health-related information.


The WHO Country Office has set up an operation room connected to the MoH crisis centre, thus keeping in close contact with national and local health authorities as well as with the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office.

WHO assisted the MoH in developing contingency, operational and evacuation plans.

WHO is mobilizing resources for vehicles and equipment for medical teams and for the provision of surgical and emergency health kits.

A UN Technical Working Group on Disaster Management was established to monitor the situation, assist in the contingency planning and the response.


Assessments and events:

Meningococcal meningitis continues to spread countrywide; 15 out of the 25 states are currently affected. Between 3 December and 6 May, 5 538 cases were reported including 477 deaths (CFR 8.6%). The most affected states are

South and North Kordofan, West Darfur, Blue Nile, Kassala and Gederaf in the North and Warap, Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal in the South.

In West Darfur, following the mass vaccination campaign against meningococcal meningitis in Zallingi, cases have started to decline.

In Southern Sudan, the cholera outbreak is declining. Between 28 January and 30 April, 12 755 cases and 364 deaths (CFR 2.85%) were reported.


With the onset of high risk season for malaria and waterborne diseases, emergency medical supplies are being pre positioned in all high risk camps across Darfur. The capacity of the national and state laboratories have been strengthened. An epidemic preparedness and response plan for acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and malaria was prepared.

In West Darfur, WHO and partners organized a meeting on AWD preparedness in Zallingi to assess risk levels and identify gaps in inter-agency capacities. WHO will establish a cholera preparedness matrix and provide training material and case management guidelines.

The meningitis vaccination campaign in Zallingi and surrounding camps was completed on 6 May. The campaign, that achieved a coverage of 61%, was implemented by the State MoH with support from WHO, UNICEF, the IFRC and NGOs working in the areas.

In North Darfur, the State MoH and WHO investigated an outbreak of acute respiratory infections east of El Fasher. Samples from a case of suspected meningitis in As Salaam camp were sent to the national laboratory in Khartoum. State MoH and WHO monitoring continues in both areas.

WHO has revised its proposal to ECHO down to 382 000 euros to vaccinate 340 000 high risk people in areas affected by the meningitis outbreaks. The proposal also aims at improving surveillance, case management, drug availability and supervision.

A Federal MoH, World Bank, WHO, and UNICEF delegation arrived in Kassala on 2 May to develop a plan of action for the state's health sector.

In 2006 contributions were received from the European Commission, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland and the 2006 Common Humanitarian Fund. In 2005, support was provided by the European Commission, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Assessments and events:

An estimated 8.5 million, considered to be "the poorest of the poor," are affected by the ongoing drought. Lives are threatened by under-nutrition but also by infectious diseases - measles, diarrhoeas, acute respiratory infections, meningitis and malaria. Polio is a persisting hazard across the affected areas. Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people living with HIV/AIDS are the most vulnerable. Poor access to health care reinforces the affected populations' vulnerability.

It is a "complex crisis of livelihoods", and whatever the outcomes of relief in the next 12 months, more efforts will be needed in the long term to reduce structural vulnerabilities.


In Eritrea, the results of an assessment carried out by WHO and partners in the North Red Sea region have been made available. WHO conducted a workshop for the MoH Integrated Disease Surveillance Response staff. A 90-day plan has been discussed with the MoH and Health Cluster partners.

Three New Emergency Health Kits (A NEHK includes medicines, disposables and instruments to support 10 000 people for 3 months), two diarrhoea kits, 40 UNFPA kits and one trauma kit have been received.

In Ethiopia, WHO conducted a mission to Borena and Somali regions to meet with regional authorities and representatives from affected communities and NGOs, assess the health situation, identify gaps and evaluate the progress of the training being conducted for local response teams.

Four new NEHKs, two diarrhoea kits and 40 UNFPA kits have been received; the purchase of additional kits is being considered. The Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD) also offered supplies.

In Djibouti, WHO is assisting the MoH in defining surveillance and reporting mechanisms as well as guidelines for health care to be offered through mobile clinics. There are enough medical supplies in the country.

In Kenya, WHO and partners are assisting the MoH in planning control measures in the North East provinces for the oncoming malaria transmission season. Surveillance, training in case management, vector control and resource mobilization activities are intensifying.

Nine NEHKs and several combined-therapy for malaria kits are expected.

In Somalia, training of health workers on surveillance and health coordination is ongoing in Mogadishu.

Four NEHKs and four diarrhoea kits are expected; cold chain equipment will be ordered shortly. An International Coordinator has been recruited to be posted inside Somalia (in Wajid).

The Emergency Relief Coordinator has granted a total of USD 4 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for urgent, life-saving programmes in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia.

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