Jason Nickerson, a respiratory therapist and doctoral candidate in Population Health at the University of Ottawa, in this Global Health Hub post, recounts recent controversy surrounding “the health and humanitarian response to the earthquake and cholera outbreaks” in Haiti, noting tension “between the provision of [a cholera] vaccine as opposed to spending…
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
Inter Press Service examines how doctors and aid workers in and around Mogadishu, Somalia, “are warning that famine victims in internally displaced camps have become vulnerable to contagious diseases like cholera and measles, as conditions here are ripe for an outbreak.” Sanitation and access to food and drinking water are the greatest concerns, IPS reports, adding that “[w]hile international aid continues to be delivered to Somalia, relief efforts at some camps have dwindled or stopped.” The news service writes, “The Somali government’s Mogadishu spokesman Mohamed Abdullahi Arig told IPS that the government needed help to prevent a possible cholera outbreak and to prevent other communicable diseases from spreading in the camps. ‘The government is more vigilant, but our capacity is too little. We need the international community’s assistance in this sector,’ Arig said” (Abokar, 11/17).
“Cholera has broken out in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya, home to nearly 500,000 Somali refugees, the United Nations said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Nebehay, 11/15). “There are now 60 cases of cholera in [Kenya's Dadaab complex], including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death, according to Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” the U.N. News Centre writes.
UNICEF Distributing Hygiene, Sanitation Items In Flood-Affected Thailand To Help Prevent Disease Spread
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is distributing more than 300,000 hygiene and sanitation items to flood-affected families in Thailand, in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the Asian country,” Bernama reports. The risk of water-borne diseases is increased in flood-affected areas, but that risk “can be reduced through safe sanitation and improved hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing,” according to the news agency (11/11). According to a UNICEF press release, the agency “has budgeted $1.2 million to provide emergency relief and post-flood assistance … in the areas of health, child protection, water supply and sanitation, hygiene promotion and education” to an estimated three million flood-affected people (11/10).
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg on Tuesday “urged donors to give generously to assist Nicaragua and El Salvador cope with the aftermath of the recent floods, saying that the scale of the disaster is beyond what the small Central American nations can handle on their own,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, approximately 1.2 million people in the region are affected by flooding, “[t]housands of homes have been damaged and hundreds of schools, roads and health facilities are closed,” and [w]ater-borne diseases are spreading …, she added.” Bragg also said food security was a concern, as thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, “‘making it increasingly difficult for people to get enough food for the next six months,’ she stated,” the news service notes (11/8).
The U.N. and several other international aid groups, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Care and ACTED, on Wednesday “warn[ed] they are running short of money and supplies to help millions of people affected by floods in Pakistan,” the Associated Press reports (11/9). “Floods in August hit Sindh province in the south, killing at least 430 people and disrupting the lives of nine million. Many people are still camping out in the open with little food, water or shelter,” Reuters writes, adding “agencies fear flood victims could suffer from a major outbreak of dengue fever, malaria and acute respiratory infection” (Conway, 11/9). The U.N., which has raised just $96.5 million of the $357 million it wants for flood relief, called the appeal ‘distressingly underfunded,’” the Guardian notes (Ford, 11/9).
One year after cholera was detected in Haiti, the New York Times reports on how, “[a]s the epidemic continues, the Cuban medical mission that played an important role in detecting it presses on in Haiti, winning accolades from donors and diplomats for staying on the front lines and undertaking a broader effort to remake this country’s shattered health care system.” The newspaper recaps a brief history of Cuban medical missions in Haiti since 1998 and writes, “There is no doubt that the Cuban mission has been vital here.”
The U.N. reported Friday “that it is increasing its joint efforts with Cambodian authorities and aid providers to offer food assistance to some of the thousands of people that have been displaced by severe flooding recently,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, “Some 240,000 people have been displaced by heavy rains and according to the World Food Programme (WFP), 10 percent of the rice crops have been destroyed and 265,000 hectares of rice fields have been damaged, raising the price of rice by 12 percent” (11/4).
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “reports heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are causing havoc among thousands of displaced Somalis in the region” and “flood-damaged roads are hampering relief efforts to thousands affected by the heavy rains,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 11/4). “UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing in Geneva that the agency has distributed 4,500 assistance kits so far, which include plastic sheets, plastic buckets and soap,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/4). “In addition to providing emergency relief for floods, other U.N. agencies continue to increase their efforts to help Somalis who suffer from famine and insecurity,” VOA notes (11/4).
“Despite a massive increase in humanitarian operations and international funding since famine was formally declared 100 days ago, the relief effort in Somalia is expected to miss almost all its key targets for 2011, a draft United Nations report reveals,” the Guardian reports, adding, “[m]alnutrition rates have more than doubled, less than 60 percent of the 3.7 million people targeted have received monthly food assistance, and only 58 percent of a targeted 1.2 million people received critical non-food aid items.”