Health Action in Crises – WHO

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Highlights No 261 – 8–21 June 2009

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 operational use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


For more information see the Health Cluster Bulletins no. 3 and no. 4, the WHO Pakistan

Office web site and the latest Press Release.

  • The UN has ordered the evacuation of most of its employees from Peshawar after a bomb at the Pearl Continental hotel killed 16 people and injured 70, including several UN staff, on 9 June.
  • The Emergency Relief Coordinator warned that a slow response from international donors to the recent UN appeal for US$ 543 million is putting the humanitarian response at risk, with some aid agencies saying they can only continue their operations for a few more weeks without further funding.
  • The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator reported that half a million people could flee Pakistan’s northwest Waziristan region if the Government mounts a big operation against Taliban militants there.
  • WHO participated in Inter-Agency meeting on Pakistan on 10 and 17 June and to the OCHA meeting with Member States on Pakistan on 18 June.

* NWFP: North Western Frontier Province;

FATA: Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Assessments and Events

• An estimated 261 000 people are staying in 27 camps in the NWFP, including more than 148 000 people who fled their homes over the past six weeks. The National Database and Registration Authority currently tallying the total number of IDPs has registered 1.9 million people so far.

• The coming monsoon and extreme heat combined with cramped and unsanitary living conditions and poor health status heighten the risk of outbreaks:

􀂾 Camps are overcrowded, with poor sanitation and hygienic conditions, contaminated water supplies and inadequate provision of health care.

􀂾 IDPs have low vaccination coverage and poor nutrition status.

􀂾 IDPs include approximately 500 000 children under five and, according to UNFPA, 64 000 pregnant women, 6000 of whom will deliver in June.

􀂾 An IMC’s assessment in Mardan and Swabi reports that 10% of people are physically or mentally disabled, seriously ill or seriously injured.

• Disease surveillance is ongoing and more than 72 000 consultations were reported to the Disease Early Warning System (DEWS) between 1 and 7 June. The leading causes of morbidity were acute respiratory tract infections (19%) and acute diarrhoea (12%).


• WHO is working closely with federal, provincial and district authorities to coordinate and deliver health services, strengthen the existing Disease Early Warning System (DEWS) and prepare for potential outbreaks.

• WHO completed a mapping of health facilities in each IDP-hosting districts, reviewing bed capacity, partners providing health services in camps and mobile clinics in host communities.

• WHO and health partners are investigating all AWD cases, collecting samples for analysis and coordinating responses to establish diarrhoea treatment centres in camps and referral hospitals and strengthen monitoring and reporting. Watsan partners are increasing hygiene promotion activities.

• Health authorities, WHO and UNICEF started on 11 June a measles vaccination campaign for new IDP in Yar Hussain and Shah Mansoor camps; an estimated 7000 children aged 6 months to 13 years are targeted.

• Current stocks of essential medicines can cover the response until end of June. Urgent funding, estimated at US$ 5 million, is required to cover the health response for the next six months.

• WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and 19 Health Cluster NGOs are requesting US$ 37 million in the revised Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan to provide and manage medicines, primary health care, disease monitoring, health and hygiene promotion, drinking water testing and secondary and tertiary level healthcare.

• WHO has received US$ 3 394 700. The USA, Italy and DFID have pledged support. Only 11% of the Health Cluster appeal had been funded by 11 June.


For more information see

and the Regional Office for South-East Asia web site.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator stressed that fast action is needed to allow freedom of movement for the IDPs living in camps and to prevent them from becoming “internment” facilities. The issue of freedom of movement is becoming more important than that of living conditions in camps, which are improving every day.

Assessments and Events

• According to OCHA’s latest figures, more than 278,000 IDPs were still accommodated in temporary camps in northern Sri Lanka as of 8 June.

• There is a severe shortage of trained medical staff, medicines and equipment in hospitals to cover the health needs of over 286,000 IDPs.

• Health priorities include the provision of adequate health care, water and sanitation, the prevention of outbreaks of communicable diseases as well as the provision of mental health and psychosocial.


• In Colombo and Vavuniya, WHO is supporting the MoH in coordinating the work of health partners to ensure the most efficient use of resources. On 10 June, a further 232 national medical officers were deployed to the Northern and North Central province to provide medical care to IDPs.

• In Jaffna, WHO provided 50 beds to Chavakachcheri District Hospital and provided an Emergency Medical Kit to the Regional Department of Health Services. The kit contains medical equipment and medicines for 10 000 patients for three months.

• The International Relief and Development Agency constructed a ward at the Chavakachcheari Base at a cost of US$ 27 000, funded by WHO through CERF.

• On 6 May, the UN and the Government launched an appeal for US$ 50 million to meet the IDPs’ immediate humanitarian needs. As part of this appeal, WHO and the health sector requested almost US$ 7.4 million to improve access to health care for IDPs and host communities in Kilinochchi, Mannar, Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu.

• WHO received funding from Italy, the CERF and the South-East Regional Health Emergency Fund.


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