West African region
Most of the 250 million inhabitants of the West African sub-region continue to suffer from high levels of vulnerability and be subjected to a range of natural and man-made disasters. While the overall humanitarian situation has relatively improved over the past year, there are still unacceptable levels of human distress and suffering caused by undernutrition, disease outbreaks, forced displacements, floods, conflicts and mal-functioning political systems.
West Africa’s epidemiological profile is marked by the predominance of endemic and epidemic communicable diseases. Malaria is the first cause of morbidity and mortality. Children under five and pregnant women are the most vulnerable in this regard. Other diseases, such as diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera), meningitis, yellow and Lassa fevers also claim scores of lives and cause extensive suffering. The risk of disease outbreak is high and conditions for rapid spreading of communicable diseases between countries are present. Though surveillance systems have been put in place with the support of WHO in most of Western Africa countries, capacities to address the issue of epidemics alert and response at both national and regional level still need improvement.
Access to and availability of functioning and affordable health care services are not granted to large numbers of the most vulnerable people, especially rural communities and displaced persons. As such, the recurrent health emergencies in most of the West African countries need considerable and sustainable efforts in terms of coordination, including information management, of technical support and of resource mobilization.