Humanitarian Health Action

WHO rushes medical help to flood victims across Afghanistan

5 August 2010 | Kabul, Afganistan -- The World Health Organization has begun sending medical relief supplies to address health needs of victims of the flooding across provinces in central, eastern and northern Afghanistan.

At the request of the Afghan government, WHO has so far provided enough supplies to cover the basic health needs of 9000 people and treat 5000 diarrheal cases. These supplies have been delivered to provincial health departments as well as to local health NGOs, which have easy access to flood victims. Medical supplies to cover essential health needs of 200,000 people arrived in country on 3 August, and WHO is well prepared to support the health sector response should the situation worsen.

"WHO is supporting the government response to the health needs of people affected by flooding through distributing emergency medical assistance in the provinces that have been worst affected by the ongoing floods, ensuring that the urgent health needs of the Afghan people are met," said Peter Graaff, WHO Representative to Afghanstan. "As flooding continues, WHO stands prepared to immediately respond to the worsening health crisis."

In addition to injury and death, major health concerns at the moment are the spread of waterborne diseases associated with the flood-induced contamination of water sources and the increase of mosquitoes and other vectors around collected water. These include diarrheal diseases, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, malaria and hemorrhagic fever; as well as respiratory infections. Other challenges are the provision of clean drinking water, and access to and by the victims to health care.

As the concern of disease outbreak is high, the epidemiological surveillance is on alert: the disease early warning system is now reporting on a daily basis in all flood-affected areas to be able to rapidly detect and control disease outbreak.

With the ongoing flooding, related to that in neighbouring Pakistan, the exact number of damaged health facilities in Afghanistan is still unclear. WHO has identified resources to rehabilitate the health facilities damaged by the recent flooding with the aim to reinstate health services as soon as possible.

For more information, please contact:

Aanchal Khurana
Communications Officer
World Health Organization
+93 (0) 79 533 9211