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World Health Organization sends aid to help victims of South Asia earthquake

9 OCTOBER 2005 -- An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter Scale has caused heavy damage and much loss of life in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. Hardest hit has been Pakistan where thousands are believed to be dead and where WHO is concentrating its efforts in supporting care for the injured.

"For the next 48 hours relief efforts will focus on search and rescue. Many of the survivors being pulled from the rubble suffer from trauma type wounds necessitating emergency care," says Dr Khalif Bile Mohamud, WHO Representative in Pakistan.

"However, existing hospitals have been damaged and some destroyed, with health personnel among the casualties. As a result of the increased number of injured people, shortages in surgical supplies have been reported."

In response, WHO has provided the Ministry of Health with two New Emergency Health Kits (NEHK). Each kit contains essential medical supplies covering the needs of 10,000 people for three months. An additional five NEHKs and ten Trauma Kits (each sufficient for 100 surgical interventions) will be sent in the coming days.

WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health of Pakistan with their National Emergency Response Plan. Seventeen national surgical teams have been sent to the most affected districts. These teams consist of surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists and operating theatre technicians. WHO and UNICEF will provide supplies and cover local costs incurred by these teams for a period of two weeks.

"WHO continues to assess the health situation on the ground. WHO is taking part in the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) conducting an overall assessment in the affected areas," says Dr Ala Alwan, Representative of the Director General for Health Action in Crises.

"In addition to the WHO Representative in Pakistan and his team, WHO has also deployed 14 international experts in public health, epidemiology, health systems, logistics and water & sanitation."

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For more information, contact:

In Pakistan
Dr Khalif B. Mohamud - WHO Representative in Pakistan
Telephone: +92 51 925 5077 / +92 51 925 5185
Mobile phone: +92 300 8500 198

In Geneva
Marko Kokic - Information Officer
Health Action in Crises
WHO Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 24 48
Mobile phone: +41 79 217 34 11