Zimbabwe + 11 more

Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 202 - 31 Mar to 06 Apr 2008


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 internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and Events

- The release of electoral results appears imminent. The political climate is tense, but very calm.

- A positive and peaceful outcome will provide an opportunity to address longrunning issues such as:

  • High unemployment and inflation, which are driving tens of thousands of Zimbabweans to South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana;
  • Deteriorating food security and social distress for the most vulnerable;
  • Increased risk of malnutrition and disease outbreaks;
  • Weakening health system.


- OCHA is coordinating humanitarian partners around an emergency relief needs and capacities matrix.

- The interagency contingency plan was revised to reflect all possible situations.

- WHO is working closely with the UN country team on the contingency plan and monitoring the situation in the country and in the surrounding countries.

- Medical supplies have been put on stand by in WFP/WHO humanitarian depots.

- Ireland is contributing 500 000 Euros to support WHO's activities.


Assessments and Events

- Cholera is reported in ten districts of Nyanza province: 89 cases and three deaths have been notified over the past week alone.

- In general, humanitarian needs are expected to continue throughout the return and re-integration of the 600 000 people displaced by the recent violence. Many have moved to their ethnic homelands for security, despite the fact that some have no support structures in those areas.

- All social services have been disrupted by the crisis and health services are under pressure. Local safety nets and vital systems need appropriate backstop.

- Risks are particularly acute for the most vulnerable such as people with chronic conditions, like TB or HIV/AIDS, who depend on regular medication.

- Key interventions for the health response include disease surveillance, outbreak response, improved access to primary health care, both preventive and curative, and referral care for both IDP and host communities, all properly supported by decentralized coordination and good information management.

- Finally, the cholera outbreak in Mandera and Wajir - 448 cases and 12 deaths so far - reminds the humanitarian community of the extreme vulnerability of the Northeast Province.


- WHO and the Health Cluster partners (UNICEF, UNFPA, the Kenyan Red Cross, international and local NGOs, community- and faith-based organizations) continue to support the MoH provincial and district teams in facing the increasing demand for care.

- In the context of the Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan, WHO is requesting external assistance to:

  • strengthen coordination and health information management (assessments, monitoring, dissemination) in the most critical provinces as well as in Nairobi;
  • ensure surveillance and respond to disease outbreaks;
  • facilitate gap-filling in the health care delivery system as well as in the overall emergency response;
  • strengthen primary health care services and ensure the availability of medical supplies in IDP camps and host communities.

The CERF has granted US$ 621 679 to support the health of refugees living in Kenya who are also affected by the crisis.

- WHO's emergency activities so far have been funded by the CERF, Australia and Turkey. WHO also advanced US$ 240 000 from its own regular budget.


Assessments and Events

- On 1 April, there was fighting between government troops and rebels in Ade on the border with Sudan. This is the first move by the rebels since the state of emergency was lifted on 16 March. MSF-Holland and ICRC are providing care and transporting the wounded to Gozbeida hospital. Reports indicate 47 wounded and seven dead among the civilian population.

- Security remains precarious all across the east, as acts of banditry persist.

- The laboratory in Abeche reported two cases of hepatitis E - one in Guereda and the other in Iriba - and three news cases of meningitis in Gozbeida. None of the affected districts have reached the alert level.


- WHO continues supervising on and supporting health workers in surveillance and management of malnutrition; the latest round of training benefited 13 health centres managers in Adre district, where WHO also reinforced the district hospital laboratory.

- A training on the epidemiological surveillance was also organized in Bahaï.

- WHO and UNHCR have installed solar-powered high frequency radios in Bahaï and Iriba districts to strengthen the outbreak early warning system.

- Partner organizations in the east (WHO, HCR, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS and NGOs) are planning the implementation of activities for 2008.

- Recent WHO's activities in Chad have been funded by ECHO Italy, Finland and the CERF. WHO is discussing further funding with ECHO.