Humanitarian Health Action

Cyclone Aila update - August 2009

Health Sector Needs Assessment for Cyclone Aila

Following Cyclone Aila, WHO assisted the Bangladesh Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in conducting a rapid health needs assessment to identify gaps in this sector and improve future interventions. The recommendations of this assessment include:

  • Provision of health care services, including emergency drugs, in cyclone shelters on a regular basis.
  • Provision of funds for mobile medical teams (rapid response teams for emergency preparedness and response) for outbreak investigation and management during epidemics.
  • Establishment of a desalination plant to resolve problems related to drinking water.
  • Greater capacity-building for emergency preparedness and response (EPR) and disease surveillance.
  • Regular replenishment of buffer stocks of emergency drugs.
Funds For Cyclone Aila

To assist the fifty thousand people who remain in crowded cyclone shelters after Cyclone Aila, WHO as a health cluster lead, in collaboration with DGHS, has prepared and submitted a six-month recovery proposal for US$ 1 015 728 to the UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) on 16 July 2009. The overall objective of the proposal is to reduce morbidity and mortality by providing emergency health support to those still living in cyclone shelters.

Health Cluster Activities

To assist the fifty thousand people who remain in crowded cyclone shelters after Cyclone Aila, WHO as a health cluster lead, in collaboration with DGHS, has prepared and submitted a six-month recovery proposal for US$ 1 015 728 to the UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) on 16 July 2009. The overall objective of the proposal is to reduce morbidity and mortality by providing emergency health support to those still living in cyclone shelters.

Simulation Exercises
  • To clarify the role and responsibilities of humanitarian actors in emergency preparedness and response, four workshops on Multi-Sectoral Table Talk and Simulation Exercise on Disaster Preparedness and Response for Senior Level Health and Disaster Management Related Professionals were conducted in Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna and Barisal Division in the months of June and July 2009.
  • The overall objective was to inform the participants about the recent development of the three pillars of Humanitarian Reform (Cluster approach, financial management and humanitarian coordinator) from the global perspective.
  • At the end of the workshop, the participants made a short-, mid- and long term Action Plan, and committed to implementing the knowledge gained in real-life situations.
  • The next simulation exercises will be held at Chittagong, Coxs Bazar, Patuakhali and Dhaka.
Preparedness Activities

As floods occur every year in Bangladesh, and can lead to water-borne disease outbreaks, WHO has procured and distributed emergency medicines for reducing avoidable mortality and morbidity in flood-prone districts. The drugs are kept as emergency buffer stock in the most disaster-prone districts.

Safe Hospitals Campaign
  • In an initiative to mainstream disaster risk reduction in health facilities as a Priority Implementation Partnership, the Disaster Management Bureau and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Thailand, conducted a workshop on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in health facilities development in Dhaka on 20th July 2009.
  • A report on vulnerability and condition of the existing hospital facility was presented, with recommendations sought from participants for increasing the seismic safety of hospital buildings. WHO presented on the Safe Hospital Campaign including its future plan of action.
  • An assessment for disaster resilience was conducted in four selected hospitals in Bangladesh: Dhaka Medical College, Dhaka, National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedics Rehabilitation (NITOR), Dhaka, Chittagong Medial College, Chittagong, and University of Science and Technology and Bangabandhu Memorial Hospital (USTC BBMH), Chittagong.
  • Before conducting the assessment, a questionnaire was developed through a consultative process, taking into consideration existing methodologies prevalent in Bangladesh for structural assessment of buildings, as well as availability of global guidelines such as WHOs Hospital Safety Index.
  • Dhaka Medical College and Hospital is one of the most oldest and important hospital in Bangladesh. The main inpatient unit is situated in an old building. Preliminary assessments revealed that this building is highly vulnerable to seismic hazard. It is moderately safe with regard to non-structural vulnerability according to the WHO checklist. In-depth assessment of the building is needed for upgrading and retrofitting recommendations.
  • The following actions are identified as possible intervention options for reducing the earthquake risk in the assessed building:
    • In-depth study of the building, its structural system, and materials is recommended based on the identified weakness in this first-phase assessment, before any retrofitting is carried out.
    • All non-structural elements (partitions, furniture, equipment etc.) should be fixed properly to restrict their movement and prevent them from overturning, sliding and other impacts in an earthquake
For more information

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