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UK team of health and emergency response workers is flying to the region hit by Cyclone Idai today (24 March) to help assess health needs following the disaster.
The team of five will work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health in Mozambique, to help with the next stages of the health response following the cyclone, which has affected millions of people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
UK aid is funding the specialist team, as part of a wider UK government response to help those affected by the disaster.
The team is led by Jon Barden, who works for the Department For International Development’s (DFID’s) Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team and includes David Wightwick and Rachel Fletcher of charity UK-Med, Peter Skelton of NGO Humanity and Inclusion and Dave Phillips of UK-International Search and Rescue. The team is due to fly to Mozambique from Heathrow.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has warned of a cholera outbreak in the region hit by the cyclone.
Mr Barden said:
Many hospitals and clinics have been destroyed by the flooding. As the rescue efforts increase those that are still open will have been overwhelmed by people who urgently need treatment.
Survivors may be suffering from illnesses such as dehydration and diarrhoeal diseases, as well as injuries from the cyclone. Many of them will have had no fresh water and lack shelter and lack of access to food.
We will be assessing what health support the UK can offer the Ministry of Health, WHO and other partners in the critical first weeks of this disaster.
The UK was one of the first countries to respond to Cyclone Idai and is currently the biggest international donor. It has so far pledged to give £22 million to help deal with the disaster’s aftermath. This includes matching pound-for-pound £4 million of public donations to the Disaster Emergency Committee’s appeal.
Separately, another UK aid flight is due to leave from Doncaster Airport later today. It will contain forklift trucks and other equipment to help quickly unload aid from planes and cut the time it takes to get relief items to those in need.
A RAF flight, containing UK aid is also due to leave for Mozambique later today.
These flights are in addition to a plane of UK aid containing over 7,500 shelter kits and 100 family tents which arrived in Mozambique last Wednesday.
DFID has also sent humanitarian experts from the UK to help on the ground. In addition, it has supported the World Food Programme to deliver airdrops of high-energy biscuits to isolated pockets of people stranded by floodwaters in Beira, a city in the region worst hit by the cyclone.