“Philippine authorities appealed Thursday for help in getting relief to two million people affected by deadly floods in and around the capital, warning that evacuation centers were overwhelmed,” Agence France-Presse reports (Morella, 8/9). “The capital city, Manila, has received two months’ worth of rain in the past 48 hours, leaving much of the 12-million-person metropolis under water,” Deutsche Welle writes (8/9). BBC News reports that at least 19 people have died and more than 80,000 are in emergency shelters (McGeown, 8/8). According to CNN, “U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas said Tuesday that the United States would provide $100,000 for disaster relief” (8/8).
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) carried out the first in a series of air drops to replenish rapidly diminishing food stocks for more than 100,000 people in South Sudan who have fled fighting in Sudan,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/15). “The refugees are severely malnourished going for days without supplies after being driven from their homes by the violence,” Examiner.com notes (Lambers, 8/15). “The first air drops were made Wednesday in Maban County in Upper Nile state,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, adding that camps there — “along with another in the region called Yida — have received more than 160,000 refugees who have fled war on the other side of the border in Sudan.” According to the AP, “WFP plans to deliver up to 2,000 metric tons of food to Maban over the coming days and weeks” (8/16).
In this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, Ruby Siddiqui, an epidemiologist with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) based in London, highlights a recent news story in which the organization reports “[m]ortality rates in a refugee camp in South Sudan are nearly double the threshold for an emergency” and examines how such data are obtained in an emergency situation. “Getting good data might not seem the first priority in an emergency, but it is essential to understand and respond appropriately to the needs of the population affected,” she writes and outlines a number of techniques for collecting epidemiological data during an emergency (8/21).
“Millions of people in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region are on the brink of starvation due to drought and conflict, the United Nations said on Wednesday, and aid response plans are less than 40 percent funded ahead of an expected crisis peak,” Reuters reports (3/29). Following a week-long trip to Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, John Ging, director of operations at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, “This is already an appalling crisis in terms of the scale and degree of human suffering and it will get worse unless the response plans are properly funded. … It’s a matter of life or death for millions who are on the brink,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “More than 15 million people in the Sahel are directly affected by worsening food shortages and malnutrition brought on by the ongoing drought, which has been compounded by conflict and insecurity,” the news service writes, noting that Ging added, “More than 200,000 children died of malnutrition last year and over one million are threatened with severe acute malnutrition right now” (3/28).
The Associated Press/Seattle Times reports on a “mysterious epidemic [that] is devastating the Pacific Coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else.” The news service provides statistics regarding kidney disease in various Central American countries, quotes a number of experts regarding potential causes of the disease and notes, “While some of the rising numbers may be from better record-keeping, scientists believe they are facing something deadly and previously unknown to medicine.”
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that more than a million children below the age of five in the Sahel are facing a disaster amid the ongoing food crisis in the drought-prone region of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/16). “‘More extreme conditions could see this number rise to about 1.5 million and the problem is that funding is not coming in at the rate that we need in order to prepare properly,’ [UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado] said. ‘So far we have received just one-fifth of the $119 million we have asked for in 2012,'” VOA News writes (3/16).
“The Syrian government will allow the United Nations to assess the basic medical needs of Syrians in four areas where opposition forces have clashed with government troops and to also carry out a preliminary humanitarian needs assessment, officials said Friday,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports. WHO spokesperson “Tarik Jasarevic says a ‘very preliminary and basic survey’ overseen by his agency and the U.N. Population Fund will be carried out next week with the cooperation of Syria’s health ministry,” the news service writes.
“A year after the worst drought in 60 years sent 13.3 million people in the Horn of Africa into crisis, we are now facing a rising threat of crisis in the Sahel — an arid belt that stretches from Senegal through Niger and Burkina Faso to Chad,” Nancy Lindborg, head of democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance at USAID, writes in this post in Huffington Post’s “The Blog.” She notes, “Today, rising food prices, another failed rain, and conflict in Mali and Libya, means that between seven and 10 million people are at risk of sliding into crisis as we enter the lean season of the months ahead,” and writes, “As we focus on the rising crisis in the Sahel, we are committed to responding immediately and acting on the most important lessons learned from the Horn response.”
Lack Of Aid Money In Haiti Threatening Health, Human Rights Of Displaced People, U.N. Official Warns
“The United Nations warned on Tuesday that a lack of aid money for Haiti was putting hundreds of thousands of displaced people at risk by forcing humanitarian agencies to cut services in one of the world’s poorest countries,” Reuters reports. Noting Haiti only received half of the $382 million aid request in 2011 and so far has received only 10 percent of this year’s $231 million appeal, Nigel Fisher, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, said, “(Underfunding) threatens to reverse gains achieved in the fight against cholera through the promotion of sanitary and hygiene practices. … It threatens the very existence of hundreds of thousands of (displaced people) living in camps,” according to the news agency. “Fisher said the humanitarian community was urgently requesting $53.9 million for the April-June period to protect those living in camps and to continue to provide services such as clean water, food and crime prevention and respond to cholera outbreaks, among other things,” Reuters writes (Nichols, 3/27).
“Late Chadian government recognition of a food crisis, a slow build-up from aid agencies, and severe pipeline constraints due to closed Libyan and Nigerian borders mean food aid has not yet arrived in Chad, despite many thousands of people having already run out of food,” IRIN reports. “While staff in agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) are working furiously to beat the clock, a lead time of up to six months to get food to where it is needed means that the very soonest food will start to arrive is sometime in April,” the news service adds.