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Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 225, 08 to 14 Sep 2008

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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.


Hurricane categories:

Five: Winds over 155mph (249km/h). Storm surge more than 18 ft (5.4m) above normal.

Four: Winds 131 - 155 mph. Storm surge 13-18ft.

Three: Winds 111 - 130mph. Storm surge 9-12ft. (Katrina hit New Orleans as a three)

Two: Winds 96-110mph. Storm surge 6-8ft.

One: Winds 74-95mph. Storm surge 4-5ft.

Assessments and Events

- The Caribbean region has been affected since 15 August successively by tropical storm "Fay", hurricanes "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike". These have affected the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and the United States with Haiti and Cuba particularly impacted.

- In Haiti, at least 300 people have died up as a result of tropical storms "Fay", "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike". Health facilities have been damaged and disrupted, some 101 810 families have been affected and thousands displaced. Of those affected, 52% are estimated to be women and 36% children.

- In Gonaives, parts of the city remain under water and people have taken refuge in shelters. There is no access to some communities outside of the city.

- There are shortages of drugs, including insulin and anesthetics, and small surgical materials.

- The storms have also threatened the security of food supplies, which in turn increases nutritional risks for the population.

- Cuba is also reporting heavy damage and 4 deaths following hurricane "Ike".

- Grand Turk, in the Turks and Caicos, has also been affected following the passage of "Ike".


- For Haiti, WHO and partners are calling for US$ 4.2 million to provide health care for many of the 800 000 people - including children and pregnant women - affected by successive tropical storms.

- WHO and its health partners help authorities provide emergency medical care where access is possible.

- WHO is seeking US$1 million to implement an epidemiological surveillance system and early warning, vector control measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever; coordinate the health sector response; and to ensure access to health care in the affected areas by providing essential medicines and supplies to national authorities and the various international partners working in the health sector.

- WHO is sending staff to provide logistics support and ensure that medical supplies are delivered to communities cut off by flood waters.

- WHO is also evaluating needs through the deployment of local health coordinators in three departments (including Gonaïves) and is providing advice on management of dead bodies. An epidemiological surveillance system is also being implemented.