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Health action in crises - Highlights No 116 - 10 to 16 July 2006

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Each week, the World Health Organization Department for Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on the health aspects of selected 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:

Torrential rains from 30 June to 2 July caused flooding in the East of Ukraine, damaging farms, buildings and the telecommunication network.

Two persons were killed by flash floods, and so far 5000 people are considered to be directly affected. Close to 1.9 million people live in the affected areas.

National and local authorities are clearing up and assessing the damage as well as providing safe drinking water.

The IFCR is conducting a survey to assess the emergency needs of the affected populations.


WHO is liaising with the national health authorities and the IFRC.

MOH and WHO are monitoring the epidemiological situation. Although no outbreak of waterborne diseases have been detected, close surveillance of public health threats needs to be maintained in the affected areas.


Assessments and events:

Some 8.5 million people mainly from pastoralist communities across the region are affected.

In Somalia, 12 out of the country's 19 regions are now infected by polio with 211 confirmed cases countrywide, 26 of which were identified in 2006.

In Ethiopia, an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) was reported in Oromiya. The conflict in the Borena zone, Oromiya, remains a concern as several thousands of people are thought to have been displaced.


In Djibouti, WHO is providing technical support to the MoH and local health authorities to improve the capacities of the country's mobile units. Concurrently, field visits to hospitals and health centres are continuing to assess the coverage of essential health services. Nutritional surveillance is ongoing.

In Eritrea, WHO is working with the Orotta School of Medicine in putting together the health profiles of the 28 affected districts.

The results of a survey on the coverage by the integrated management of childhood illnesses and maternal health services will be available shortly.

In Ethiopia, WHO is assisting the Federal MoH in responding to the AWD outbreak. A national programme officer was dispatched to Borena to assess the needs. Essential drugs were provided to Oromiya and Somali regions to offset the current shortages. WHO and humanitarian partners are supporting the MoH in organizing an health and nutrition assessment following the short rainy season.

In Kenya, the National Red Cross Society assisted WHO and the MoH in distributing the medical kits to the affected regions. Training on the integrated diseases surveillance and response system were organized for district teams in Garissa and Isiolo.

In Somalia, between November 2005 and May 2006, 1.43 million children aged 9 months to 12 years were vaccinated against measles. Cold chain equipment is being distributed. A training on the surveillance and control of communicable diseases in emergencies was organized for nurses working in the Lower Shabelle.

WHO's emergency activities are supported by a grant from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Additional support is provided by Italy for Djibouti and Sweden for Somalia.


Assessments and events:

Humanitarian and UNMIS activities were suspended temporarily by the Government, which has refused a UN Darfur peacekeeping mission.

In South Darfur, violence has increased in Kalma camp, the largest IDP camp in Darfur located near Nyala.

In North Darfur, insecurity and restricted access for NGOs are hindering health care delivery in Shangil Tobayi and in Abu Shoak camp.

Between 21 April and 18 June, 2007 cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), including 77 deaths, were reported in nine out of 15 states in northern Sudan. Of these, 35.3% occurred in Khartoum state and 26% in North Kordofan. The remaining occurred in White Nile, South Darfur, South Kordofan, Kassala, Red Sea, Al Gezira and River Nile.

Between 28 January and 14 June, 16 187 cases, including 476 deaths of AWD were reported in eight out of ten states in southern Sudan. Vibrio cholerae was laboratory confirmed in several samples.


In response to the outbreak of AWD in northern Sudan, the MoH, WHO, UNICEF and partner NGOs are strengthening case management, surveillance, social mobilization and chlorination of water sources.

A task force under the MoH of the Government of Southern Sudan, including the Federal MoH, WHO, other UN and non-governmental partners has been established to coordinate the public health response. Control measures include strengthening surveillance, case management, health education and hygiene, and chlorination of public water supplies.

In North Darfur, following the report of 14 cases of acute jaundice, the State MoH and WHO are strengthening environmental health and sanitation activities in affected camps.

As part of cholera preparedness, 35 community health workers trained by WHO started sensitization activities on water and food safety, hygiene and sanitation in As Salam and Abu Shoak camps.

WHO provided drugs to the NGOs Relief International and GOAL in Kafod and Kutum following the report of suspected cases of meningitis. Local staff in Kutum hospital were trained in sample collection and transport.

In South Darfur, WHO supports the Nyala Teaching Hospital in the management of AWD cases and provided IV fluids, oral rehydration salts and consumables. WHO is assisting the Hospital in monitoring the quality of medical services in all inpatients wards.

The WHO pharmacy in Nyala continues providing free drugs and consumables for healthcare to IDPs and other vulnerable populations.

In West Darfur, cleaning and hygiene promotion campaigns are ongoing in camps with support from WHO and other health partners. WHO and UNICEF are planning to check the chlorination of all water sources in the six camps around El Geneina.

Between 20 and 25 June, more than 180 000 children aged 9 months to 15 years were vaccinated against measles in El Geneina.

In 2006, contributions for WHO's emergency activities were received from the European Commission, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland, the Central Emergency Response Fund and the 2006 Common Humanitarian Fund.

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