Conflict, flooding causing suffering in the Philippines

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4 SEPTEMBER, 2009 ¦ MANILA/GENEVA- Battered by conflict and flooding, hundreds of thousands of people in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao have been displaced from their homes and face multiple health risks, including malnutrition, diarrhoea, respiratory illness and psychosocial trauma.

"Urgent financial and material support is needed to strengthen the health response to this humanitarian crisis and reduce the suffering so many people are facing," said Dr Soe Nyunt-U, the World Health Organization's representative to the Philippines.

WHO is requesting US$ 914 176 to ensure the continued provision of health services to the internally displaced people living inside and outside temporary settlements in the conflict-affected regions.

Proposed activities include:

- coordinating health activities among multiple providers and establishing a field office in Mindanao;

- controlling communicable disease outbreaks by supplying medicines and other emergency health provisions to local health providers;

- recruiting new health staff or strengthening capacities of existing staff to improve basic health service delivery, establish health outposts in major camps and improve the quality of disease surveillance.

Since the start of the conflict in mid-August 2008 between the separatists and government forces, more than 300 people are reported to have been killed and 350 000-400 000 people displaced, a quarter of whom are housed in 164 evacuation camps in six provinces. The rest are staying with relatives or taking refuge in makeshift bunkhouses on vacant lots and on roadsides.

Health services in the camps are now being provided by understaffed and poorly supplied mobile teams. Public health services in communities hosting displaced people have been adversely affected as scant resources have been diverted into camps.

Recent flooding has made matters worse, displacing more people. Local authorities have estimated that around 300 000 people had been affected by monsoonal rainfall, and more can be expected with the typhoon season approaching.

For further information contact:

Paul Garwood
Communications Officer
Health Action in Crises
WHO, Geneva
Office: +41 22 791 3462
Mobile: +41 7974 555 46