Health situation in Mozambique, devastation is enormous, says WHO

World Health Organization

Dr Djamila
Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique visited Beira, one of the
worst-affected areas that was hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai. He delivered a
statement by phone from Maputo to the regular UN press briefing in Geneva.

Full text
of Dr Djamila Cabral about health situation in Mozambique is as follows –

Last Friday
I visited Beira, one of the worst-affected areas that was hit by Tropical
Cyclone Idai.

The
devastation is enormous.

More than
100 000 people have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Families,
pregnant women, babies are living in temporary camps in horrific conditions,
without secure food supplies, or safe drinking water and sanitation.

Around 55
health centres have been severely damaged. I visited the central hospital in
Beira where I saw the direct impact of the cyclone. The flooding had damaged
essential equipment and the facility is unable to receive patients during this
crucial time. As an example, surgical theatre and nursery completely damaged.

Official
death toll is more than 446 but we expect the real numbers to be much higher.
1.8 million people in Mozambique need urgent humanitarian assistance.

For WHO,
health is our number one priority now.

We MUST NOT
let these people suffer a second disaster through a serious disease outbreak or
inability to access essential health services. They have suffered enough.

WHO’s
Director General, Dr Tedros has called for a “no regrets” approach – this means
that we are doing whatever it takes to address the crisis, investing all the
available resources now to save lives and protect health.

We are
building up a surge team of over 40 staff from across the Organization, with
expertise in logistics, epidemiology, and outbreak prevention and response.

We have a
number of key priorities right now

First to set
up an early warning disease detection system so that we can respond rapidly as
soon as an outbreak is suspected.

Then we need
to ensure that, as resources come in, they are immediately put to work.

We know that
after an event like this, there is extremely high risk of diarrhoeal diseases
like cholera.

WHO is
positioning supplies to prepare to treat diarrhoeal diseases –

lifesaving
intravenous fluids, diagnostic tests, 900 000 doses of oral cholera vaccines
are on their way from the global emergency stockpile.

We are
providing our expertise to set up 3 cholera treatment centres, including an
80-bed treatment centre in Beira.

We are also
preparing for a spike in malaria in the coming weeks by procuring 900 000
insecticide-treated bednets to protect all affected families, and ensure rapid
diagnostic tests and antimalarials are positioned to high-risk areas.

And we are
working at top speed to ensure that the people of Mozambique can access
essential health services during this crisis to ensure that

– people
with HIV, TB or diabetes continue to receive their medications

– that
thousands of pregnant women are able to receive care for safe childbirth

– that
children receive treatment for common infections and are screened (and treated
if needed) for acute malnutrition

– that
people in need receive psycho-social support and protection from gender-based
violence.

The coming weeks are crucial for WHO in Mozambique. The health sector needs at least $38 million over the next 3 months for the health response to this humanitarian crisis.

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