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Health Action in Crises Monthly Report Aug 2004

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DISCLAIMER: The following is a non-exhaustive selection of health-related events and WHO actions undertaken during the stated period in specific countries in which populations are experiencing crisis conditions. This has been compiled by WHO/Health Action in Crises (HAC/HQ), in consultation with relevant Country and Regional Offices. If you are a WHO staff member and wish to contribute to this update, please write
For a list of acronyms, please see the last page of this update.

AFRO West Africa Sub-Region

Regional Office Focal Point: K.E Siamevi,
HQ Focal Point: K. Shibib,



11 August the Government of Guinea declared a cholera epidemic. As of 18 August, 288 cases with 27 deaths. One new case reported in Boffa since the last evaluation by the Ministry of Health. The outbreak is being brought under control - The number of new cases and deaths have declined. (Source: IRIN)

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative confirmed one case of polio in Guinea and two in Mali five years after Polio was eradicated. (Source: IFRC/IRIN)

WHO Interventions

WHO offered GNF 2 million and various items (drugs, mattresses, spraying equipments, basins).

WHO Representative:
K. Mbaye



75,000 children under 5 years to be vaccinated against measles and receive Vitamin A capsules in Sinoe and Gbarpolu Counties. (Source: OCHA)

WFP cut rations for more than 700,000 Liberians for the second time in two months due to dwindling stocks and funding shortfalls. (Source: IRIN)

Two new cases of Lassa fever noted with one on the border with Côte d'Ivoire.

There are so few working hospitals and health clinics in southeastern Liberia that patients in one district are ferried by canoe to neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire for treatment. (Source: IRIN/IFRC)

Sanitation improving in the Monrovia Metropolis.

UN continues to support the DDRR process.

WHO Interventions

A shipment of antiretro-viral drugs to the Ministry of Health confirmed arrived.

WHO, UNICEF, MOH and Partners are planning for the October and November synchronised Polio National Immunization Days.

WHO, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare organized a 3- day workshop on Communication for Behavioral Impact (COMBI) and Local Production of Chlorine. Participants were drawn from UN agencies, requisite NTGL line Ministries, Monrovia City Corporation, NGOs, marketing association and the media.

WHO Country Representative (WR) visited three counties in the South East (Grand Gedeh, Rivergee and Maryland) to assess needs.

WR, with funding from the Norwegian Government, has donated a consignment of assorted office supplies, Stationery, communication equipment, furniture and drugs to the County Health Teams in Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland. The donations were intended to strengthen the county teams to respond adequately to the needs of the returning populations in their communities.

In Zwedru, Grand Gedeh the items were received by the County health officials WHO will continue to assist in the distribution of essential medical supplies and equipment to vulnerable population of the southeast.

WHO, with support from the Norwegian Government, donated assorted sanitation tools and equipment to strengthen the capacity of Monrovia City Corporation to respond to the worsening garbage situation.

Supervision and monitoring of the medical screening of ex-combatants at all containment sites

WHO Representative:
O.J. Khatib



On 13 Aug, floods engulfed three villages in Adamawa state, killing at least 28 people and making 500 families homeless. (Source: IRIN)

Nine people were killed by flash floods in northeastern Nigeria 21-22 Aug and several hundred were made homeless as drains overflowed and buildings collapsed in Gombe state.

The resumption of immunization activities in Kano, the first round of which began on 31 July and ended 3 Aug, is one of several measures needed to stop polio transmission in Nigeria and to halt the international spread of the virus. Thirty of 37 states in Nigeria are infected.

A new plant to manufacture anti- retroviral (ARV) drugs for people living with AIDS has opened in Nigeria. (Source: IRIN)

WHO Interventions

WHO has undertaken a consultative process with experts to evaluate additional measures needed to prevent the further international spread of wild poliovirus to polio-free countries and areas.

WHO Representative:
M. Belhocine

Sierra Leone


A cholera outbreak in Freetown has killed 40 people in August. (Source: IRIN)

WHO Interventions

Meeting on Lassa Fever scheduled for 13-14 September; WR and concerned authorities will participate.

WHO Representative:
J. Saweka

AFRO Great Lakes and Central Africa Sub-region

Regional Office Focal Point: K.E Siamevi,
HQ Focal Point: K. Shibib,



In the massacre of Congolese refugees in Gatumba, Bujumbura Rural province, 161 refugees were killed and 110 others wounded. Hospitals in the capital city Bujumbura provided health services to the wounded refugees with the support of MSF France, MSF Belgium and ICRC. A few days after the massacre in Gatumba, negotiations between UNHCR and the Government of Burundi ended with the authorization to relocate the refugees from Gatumba and Cibitoke to the two provinces of Rutana and Mwaro far from DRC border. The Congolese refugees came to Burundi following the fighting between the national army and the armed group in South Kivu in June 2004. The UN Security Council conducted an investigation following the massacre in Gatumba.

For the UN Staff in Burundi, security Phase IV is now in four provinces (Buja Rural,Cibitoke, Bubanza and Bururi). The remaining provinces are in Phase III. The curfew prevails from 11 pm to 6 am.

WHO Interventions

WHO and UNICEF are supporting the vaccination campaign. WHO is supplying vaccines and logistical support. UNICEF contributed fuel to transport the anti-meningitis vaccines and trained vaccinators. ECHO will provide 800,000 doses of vaccines to WHO through UNICEF. The campaign is taking place in Ngozi, Muyinga and Kirundo provinces.

A special committee from the central level of the Ministry of Health started working on the national health policy document during a workshop in Gitega located 125 km from Bujumbura with the support of WHO. These activities are being supported by a high level technical team from WHO/HQ with the recruitment of a consultant who will provide technical expertise to the process for one month.

WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health initiated a referral system to improve emergency obstetrical care services in the Karuzi province. This was the first experience in the country and will provide all health centers with communication means (VHF radio) to communicate easily with the Buhiga hospital n case of emergency. While waiting for the ambulance arrival, health personnel can benefit from necessary technical advice from the medical officer of the hospital by radio (VHF). WHO donated an ambulance and radio VHF equipment for all health centers to the Ministry of Health during an official ceremony chaired by the Minister of Health and other implementing partners in the Karuzi province.

The implementation of the Health component of the Repatriation process started in August 2004 and was consolidated before in July 2004 by the signature on a Memorandum of Understanding between the WHO, UNICEF and UNHCR with the participation of the Government of Burundi. Two public health medical officers have been posted in Muyinga and Makamba and the third is under recruitment to be posted in Ruyigi. A cross border meeting was organized between UNHCR Tanzania medical team and the WHO and implementing partners of Burundi on the mechanisms to put in place for information exchange on the situation of refugees in Tanzania. This was followed by regional meetings for Burundi partners organized in Muyinga and Makamba to coordinate efforts for health and repatriation activities. A technical committee has already been created and is composed of the WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, other implementing partners and the Ministry of Health for follow up of the project.

WHO Representative:
A. El Abassi

Central African Republic


HIV/AIDS patients in the Central African Republic (CAR) will receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment at affordable prices for the next five years due to a US $25 million grant from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. (Source: IRIN)

WHO Interventions

WHO, UNICEF and The Ministry of Public Health and Population organized a campaign for health workers to vaccinate 3000 children against polio. (Source: IRIN)

WHO Representative:
L. Bazira

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