Health action in crises - Highlights No 115 - 03 to 09 July 2006

from World Health Organization
Published on 09 Jul 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:

Health professionals are concerned about the impact of power outages on household food safety and hospital care. Spoiled food and the lack of power to treat waste water could lead to outbreaks of communicable diseases.

The two-month emergency stocks of essential drugs held at the MoH hospitals in the Gaza Strip are running low in selected items, including heparin, surgical plaster and disposables (sutures, needles and cannula).

WHO Actions:

  • Supporting the MoH in ensuring the provision of power to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
  • Visited health facilities from 26 to 29 June, in Hebron, Bethlehem, Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah to monitor the impact of the crisis and assess needs.
  • Monitoring the situation and has developed, with other UN partners, a list of indicators to assess the accessibility of health care.
  • Reviewed the contingency plan for Gaza and is coordinating activities and needs with UN agencies, ICRC and NGOs.
  • Working with partners in the donor community to support the health sector and prevent a deterioration of the health situation, particularly by providing essential drugs where shortages are most acute.
  • WHO's 2006 activities have been funded by the Organization's Regular Budget and a contribution from Norway.

Assessments and events:

As of 23 June, 2406 cases of acute watery diarrhoea, including 90 deaths, were reported in nine out of 15 states in Northern Sudan.

In South Darfur the outbreak started on 24 May and so far there have been 106 cases reported, including 4 deaths,.

WHO Actions:

In response to the outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) in Northern Sudan, the MoH, WHO, UNICEF and partner NGOs are strengthening case management, surveillance, social mobilization and chlorination of water sources. Technical guidance and reference materials have been made available. Efforts are under way to mobilize cholera kits as an in-kind donation.

In North Darfur, preparedness activities have increased due to the AWD outbreak. Two Training of Trainers workshops on case management, preparedness and epidemic response were conducted. A mobile team including MoH and NGO members will be trained on epidemic response and will focus on inaccessible areas.

In South Darfur, the MoH was supported in responding to an outbreak of AWD in the town of Kass. The team assessed the chlorination of water and discussed a preparedness plan with health partners. Other activities included the distribution of case management guidelines, health education and hygiene promotion.

Provided laboratory supplies for the detection of AWD and trained medical staff working in Kass hospital and IDP clinics,.

In West Darfur, a meningitis vaccination campaign was carried out in Zalingei.

A measles immunization campaign, targeting children between 9 months and 15 years, is ongoing and it has reached 37% of the target population so far.

In 2006, contributions for WHO's activities were received from the European Commission, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland, the Central Emergency Response Fund and the 2006 Common Humanitarian Fund.


Assessments and events:

Yogyakarta earthquake

As of 26 June, the MoH reported 6736 dead and 45 201 injured. Between 300 000 and 500 000 homes were destroyed or damaged. The number of homeless people ranges from 1 to 2 million.

A total of 76 cases of tetanus, including 25 deaths, have been reported.

Access to safe water and adequate sanitation remain a problem for the affected population.

Sulawesi flash floods and landslides

The death toll remains at 285. Access to affected areas is difficult and stocks of food and medical supplies remain limited.

WHO Actions:

Yogyakarta earthquake

Treatment programmes supported by WHO and the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program AusAid have been organized to supply vital medicine to tetanus patients.

A mass immunization campaign has been completed with 76.6% coverage for measles and 45.3% for tetanus.

Distributed emergency health and surgical kits and provided cars, ambulances and radio equipment. Water and sanitation assessments were carried out and environmental health programmes were developed.

Sulawesi flash floods and landslides

Staff were deployed in the affected areas to conduct a health assessment and is providing support to the national and local health authorities.

The Indonesia Earthquake Response Plan was launched in Geneva on 6 June. WHO is requesting US$ 5.4 million to cover the health needs of the affected populations. Thanks to pledges totalling US$ 2.24 million from Australia, Canada, Iceland, Monaco, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States , over 40% of total funds requested have been obtained.

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