Floods spark disease fear across parts of Africa

Australian Medical Association/AusMed

The World Health Organisation has ramped up its disease surveillance actions and is providing critical supplies to populations across Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean Region in the wake of heavy flooding.Successive storms, cyclones and heavy rains has been severe in 2019, and the impact is being in areas that have been hit the hardest.

More than a million people have been affected in some of the worst struck countries of Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

Flood-hit populations face increased risk of illness or death from water-borne diseases and other diseases that spread easily in overcrowded, temporary shelters.

Together with governments, other UN agencies and partners, WHO is working to reduce the risk of outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and other infectious diseases.

Almost one million people have been affected in South Sudan, where 60 per cent of flood-hit areas already faced extreme levels of malnutrition.

Since the latest rains began in July, 42 nutrition centres have been forced to suspend their services. WHO is sending experts and airlifting medical supplies to the most affected areas.

In Somalia and Somaliland, floods have led to the displacement of more than 300,000 people since September.

Many flood-hit districts are cholera hotspots, where people already faced limited access to health facilities. With many roads now impassable, and an upsurge of malaria and diarrhoea, the situation for many is critical.

WHO has helped deploy 20 emergency response teams, 10 rapid response teams, and distributed 483 medical supply packages that include supplies to manage cholera and trauma. More than 2,200 people have been treated for pneumonia, measles, diarrhea and other health issues.

In the Central African Republic, recent floods have left 23,000 people displaced. WHO is distributing mosquito nets, cholera treatment, and other vital supplies to tackle water-borne diseases.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Cyclonic Storm Luban struck Yemen in October, killing 14 and displacing 800. In response, WHO’s prepositioned supplies and medical kits are being used to aid stricken populations.

Storm Luban is just one example of how 2019 has become the most active North Indian cyclone season on record, with climate change stirring up extreme weather patterns worldwide.

/AMA/AusMed News. View in full here.