Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 278, 27 Oct -01 Nov 2009

from World Health Organization
Published on 01 Nov 2009 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 operational use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and Events

- Tropical Storm Ketsana: More than 1.1 million people still live in flooded areas. The number of displaced has dramatically decreased but more than 106 000 people remain temporarily hosted in 312 evacuation centres.

- According to the National Epidemiology Centre (NEC), acute respiratory infection (54%), skin infection (18%) and diarrhoea (14%) are the main causes of morbidity.

- As of 27 October, 2894 suspected cases of leptospirosis and 210 related deaths have been notified nationwide since the disaster. Most were reported in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Region IV-A, both affected by Ketsana.

- The Storm is reported to have cause up to US$ 21.6 million in damages in NCR and Region IV-A, destroying 24 government and regional hospitals and 110 municipal health centres are reported damaged.

- The main constraints are limited access to health care in several areas due to damage to facilities as well as roads and bridges, and prolonged high-risk exposure to waterborne diseases due to residual flood water in many areas. Fluidity of traffic in evacuation centres also hinders accurate mapping, assessment, and disease surveillance. Urgent health needs continue to be:

scaling up access to essential health services;

improving disease surveillance and health and coverage in evacuation centres;

containing the spread of water and vector-borne diseases;

re-establishing primary care facilities and essential health care, including vaccination.

- Typhoon Parma: The Typhoon has caused more than US$ 8.8 million in damage to health facilities in Regions I, II, III, and Cordillera Administrative Region.

- Monitoring the health situation and assessing urgent needs are priorities.


- Following the development of a national strategy for leptospirosis prevention, control and treatment, the distribution of prophylaxis started on 17 October.

- WHO is providing technical guidance to the DoH and Health Cluster on leptospirosis and acute watery diarrhoea case management and processing orders for leptospirosis rapid diagnostic test kits.

- At the request of the Government, WHO mobilized an expert team for extra support using the Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN) mechanism (

- WHO also provided:

20 diarrheal kits (up to 10 000 cases) to the DoH's Emergency Management Staff and NGOs to help contain the spread of waterborne diseases;

60 Inter-agency Emergency Health Kit basic units (180 000 people for a month) to the DoH, Save the Children and Plan International;

generators to the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Centre in Region I.

four basic health kits to the Cordillera Administrative Region for distribution to the Parma-affected regions.

- The 6-October Flash Appeal on the consequences of Ketsana is being revised. Emphasis will be given to access to essential health services, reproductive health, disability and chronic diseases, mental health and psychosocial support and information dissemination.

- WHO's emergency response activities are funded by the CERF and ECHO.

For more information see
or the web site of the UN Humanitarian Response on the Philippines at

- The DOH requested the cooperation of private hospitals by minimizing costs for leptospirosis admissions. Some private hospitals have agreed to waive professional fees for such admissions.