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World Health Organization appeals for $21.7 million as part of United Nations response to the South Asia earthquake

The World Health Organization (WHO) is today appealing for USD 21.7 million to help meet the health needs of people whose homes and lives have been damaged or destroyed by the South Asia earthquake.

WHO is working closely with the Pakistan Health Authorities and with United Nations and other partners to meet the basic health needs of the thousands of people left homeless or injured by the earthquake in Pakistan. Initial estimates are that one million people are in acute need of assistance out of a total population in the affected region of four million. Many thousands of people are known to have died and tens of thousands are injured.

It is clear from the initial assessment that health facilities and health workers have suffered seriously in the earthquake. Help is badly needed, particularly for emergency surgery and other urgently needed care for injured people. Hospitals and other health facilities have collapsed or been badly damaged. Many nurses, doctors and other health workers are thought to have been killed or injured. The government has appealed for surgical and other medical supplies, as well as medicines and trained health workers to help in the immediate aid effort.

Along with the Pakistan authorities, WHO is assessing the most urgent health needs of the affected population and to coordinate the response. WHO is also working to put in place a disease surveillance and early warning system to ensure that any outbreaks of infectious disease are rapidly identified and can be responded to rapidly. The provision of safe food and water is an urgent priority, to prevent the emergence and spread of diarrhoeal diseases among the people affected. Antibiotics will also be essential to treat pneumonia - another major health risk. Continued treatment for tuberculosis is also critical in order to avoid transmission of the disease.

Measles is known to be endemic in the affected area. WHO, together with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, is appealing for funds to provide both emergency and routine immunization to protect children from this and other fatal or debilitating diseases.

As well as the immediate relief efforts to respond to the impact of the earthquake on people living in the area, WHO is also helping the Health Authorities and other partners to re-establish the primary health care system and other vital health services. Mental health services are also essential for people who have been through the extreme trauma of this earthquake and aftershocks.

The request for funds is part of United Nations Flash Appeal for emergency relief and rehabilitation.

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Journalists: To line up interviews with health staff in the affected areas, contact:

Marko Kokic - Information Officer
Health Action in Crises
WHO Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 24 48
Mobile phone: +41 79 217 34 11
E-mail: kokicm@who.int

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For more information contact:

Marko Kokic
Information Officer
Health Action in Crises
WHO Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 24 48
Mobile phone: +41 79 217 34 11
E-mail: kokicm@who.int