WHO rushes medical aid to flood-hit areas of Yemen

News and Press Release
Originally published
News Release WHO/39

29 October 2008 =A6 SAN'A /CAIRO/GENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) is responding to eastern Yemen's devastating floods by sending medicines and other urgent supplies to treat over 50 000 patients for a range of conditions, including illnesses linked to contaminated water and insect-borne diseases such as malaria.

Heavy flooding was caused by a tropical storm and 30 hours of torrential rain that started lashing the region on 23 October 2008. To date, at least 180 people have been killed, 10 000 displaced, and 2000 houses and 80 public buildings destroyed or damaged. Many people remain missing.

"Major health concerns at the moment are water-borne diseases and malaria," said Dr Ghulam Popal, WHO's representative to Yemen. "But also critical is ensuring access and restoration of health services in affected areas. We hope to prevent avoidable suffering and death from endemic health threats like malnutrition, acute respiratory infections, measles, and maternal and pregnancy complications."

WHO is supporting the Yemen Ministry of Public Health to coordinate the health activities of all international and national health providers to respond to this emergency.

WHO has provided US$ 100,000 to respond to the health needs of the affected population. On the ground, WHO has flown medicines to treat 10 000 patients into the Hadramout governorate, which along with Al-Mahra governorate has been declared a disaster zone. In addition, WHO is arranging for delivery of additional emergency medicines and health supplies that can treat up to 20,000 patients. Anti-malarial medicines for 20,000 people are also being sent, along with drugs to treat up to 2000 people suffering from diarrhoeal diseases.

Warnings have been passed of further flooding and landslides. All districts of Hadramout have been affected and many people have left their homes to safer places, such as schools and public buildings. Roads linking Hadramout's capital, Mukala, to the local airport as well as the governorate of Aden have been damaged. Many other roads have been washed away.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Ibrahim Kerdany
Communications Officer
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean
Telephone: +202 27 65037
Mobile: +20 10 6019087

Paul Garwood
Communications Officer
WHO, Health Action in Crises, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 3462
Mobile: +41 794 755546