Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 204 -14 to 20 Apr 2008

from World Health Organization
Published on 20 Apr 2008 View Original
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 internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and Events

- Fighting continues in Baghdad's eastern suburb of Sadr City. In the 21 days since clashes began in centre-south Iraq, OCHA reported 597 deaths, including 272 civilians.

- In some areas of Sadr City, lack of potable water is critical as pipes are exposed to raw sewage. Repair is stalled until security has improved.

- The acute watery disease and cholera surveillance system in Basra and Sadr City has been restored, however it remains weak. Overall, health services are weakened by the destruction of facilities such as the primary health care department and laboratory in Basra.


- WHO worked with the Government and UNAMI to ensure the delivery of drugs and supplies to hospitals in Sadr City and Basra during the recent fighting. WHO advocates for safe humanitarian corridors during such violent crises and for protection of health facilities, stores and medical supplies.

- On 23-24 March, WHO participated in the Sixth Scientific Conference of Salah al-Din organized by the MoH and co-sponsored by CDC Atlanta.

- The WHO Regional Office and headquarters are looking for resources to support the Country Office purchase additional supplies and undertake necessary actions in support of the MoH. WHO purchased four surgical kits to replenish stocks . Each kit provides supplies for 100 persons for ten days.

- WHO is requesting US$ 19.1 million in the 2008 CAP. These needs remain unmet. Out of the US$ 265 million requested in the CAP, around US$ 31 million are needed to cover urgent health needs during the coming 12 months.


Assessments and Events

- A coalition Cabinet was announced on 13 April, with 40 ministers and 52 assistant ministers. Kenya has now a Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and a Ministry of Hospital Services.

- On 15 April, the Government issued a cholera outbreak alert in Nyanza Province. Up to 1300 cases have been reported and more than 60 people have died in an outbreak affecting 16 districts, most of which were afflicted by the recent violence.

- In Mount Elgon, MSF reports an increasing number of injured as the violence that has been affecting this area has not abated.


- In Nyanza Province, health authorities and WHO are supporting the district and provincial response to the cholera outbreak, with special focus on case management in hospitals. A joint approach is being prepared for partners and the province to fill identified gaps. Chlorine for the treatment of water supplies was also supplied.

- In the context of the Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan, WHO is requesting external assistance to:

  • strengthen coordination and health information management (assessments, monitoring, dissemination) in the most critical provinces as well as in Nairobi;
  • ensure surveillance and respond to disease outbreaks;
  • strengthen primary health care services and ensure the availability of medical supplies in IDP camps and host communities.
- Under the revised Response Plan, WHO is requesting US$ 1.17 million, of which US$ 395 700 have already been received from the CERF, Australia and Turkey. WHO also advanced US$ 240 000 from its own regular budget.


Assessments and Events

- Health authorities have declared a yellow fever outbreak.

- Health services remain unevenly distributed: many communities in the southeast and other hard-to-reach areas are underserved due to geographical constraints, poor infrastructure and limited staff capacity.

- Maternal mortality is estimated to have increased from 578 deaths per 100 000 live births in 2000 to 994 in 2007.

- Innovative and alternative strategies are needed to accelerate the reduction of maternal, infant and under-five mortality and to improve the response to disease outbreaks, particularly in hard-to-reach and isolated areas. An integrated package of high impact interventions for basic health and nutrition is also essential. The main priorities include:

  • Disease surveillance;
  • Essential drugs and supplies as well as reproductive health, cholera and emergency health kits;
  • Health facilities in under-served areas;
  • Training on the delivery and management of health care;
  • Treatment for rape and other forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence;
  • Health information system and financing mechanisms.

- WHO supported the yellow fever outbreak investigation and the organization of an immunization campaign.

- The UN Trust fund is funding a joint UNFPA/WHO project on maternal mortality reduction. About US$ 1.4 million has already been pledged to support WHO's activities.

- WHO is preparing a project with ECHO on Lhasa Fever control.

- WHO is requesting US$ 1.7 million in the Liberia Critical Humanitarian Gaps 2008 appeal. WHO's planned activities are focused on:

  • Response to disease outbreaks and provision of emergency health kits;
  • Maternal health care services in rural and hard-to-reach communities;
  • Child maternal and child survival activities through integrated maternal and neonatal tetanus and measles campaigns.