Health action in crises - Highlights No 147 - 26 Feb to 04 Mar 2007

from World Health Organization
Published on 04 Mar 2007
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:

- At least 45 people have died and 170 000 have been displaced by the flooding. Thousands are reportedly pouring into crowded camps in central Mozambique, straining relief efforts and prompting fears of a food crisis.

- Preliminary health assessments in the flood- and cyclone-affected areas as well as in the temporary accommodation centres report an increased risk of dseases due to lack of sanitation and limited access to safe water.

- Besides, less than half of the population has access to primary health care services and the referral system is weak in rural and remote areas. The level of training for health workers is generally inadequate.

- While the immediate impact of natural disasters on the transmission of communicable diseases is limited, the risk for waterborne disease and vector transmitted disease can be exacerbated particularly as diarrhoeal diseases, cholera and malaria (the first cause of death among under-five) are endemic.

- As of 22 January, health authorities have reported 1452 cases of malaria and 1660 cases of dengue fever. Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are increasing exponentially.

- A basic communicable diseases surveillance system needs to be reinforced.


- With the support of HAC Geneva, the AFRO Regional Office and Health Cluster partners, WHO aims at reducing avoidable losses of lives and morbidity among the affected population.

- A WHO health-fact finding mission visited four districts affected by Cyclone Favio. Key recommendations includes: Repair the damaged health units, health workers accommodation and equipment; Provide damaged facilities with medicines and supplies Ensure treatment continuity for the ARV and PMTCT patients; Build latrines for the emergency tent-based hospital; Ensure supply of water and electricity and sanitation to all health facilities.

- WHO will set-up offices in Caia and Vilanculus to support the response.

- WHO will provide essential medicines and medical supplies, health education materials, training for community workers, technical support in the field and at central level for health coordination.

- WHO will support the national authorities in strengthening early warning and response system for early detection and rapid response to communicable diseases outbreaks and Supply of basic medical equipment and commodities.

- WHO first response has been supported by regular budget funds. A proposal for a CERF grant has been prepared and approved. So far, WHO country office has dedicated $50 000 from its budget to support this operation.