Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar: delta disease surveillance

December 2009

A family on a boat, Myanmar.

Natural disasters, like Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar in 2008, frequently result in humanitarian emergencies. The people affected lose their homes and livelihoods; basic social and health networks and infrastructure are destroyed.

This lethal cocktail of events results in lack of food and shelter, unsafe water, poor sanitation and crowded living conditions. Unless a rapid, focussed and coordinated humanitarian response occurs in the immediate aftermath, communicable diseases can emerge as major killers, especially affecting young children and the most vulnerable.

While local health care workers often provide initial, lifesaving care, WHO has a key role in such humanitarian responses when they collaborate with and support national and humanitarian partners. More specifically, WHO operational and technical teams support the coordination of health sector activities, assess and monitor health threats, rebuild health systems and strengthen their capacities.

This photo story illustrates one of WHO's vital areas of work which takes place after a natural disaster, the detection, prevention and control of communicable disease.

Read the photo story

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