Possible typhoid outbreak in cyclone affected area alarms UNICEF
Suva, 22 March, 2010 – “With a typhoid outbreak already in existence prior to Cyclone Tomas, the risk of rapid spread has been significantly increased evacuation centers were crowded and unsanitary,” said United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pacific Office Emergency Coordinator, Mr. Hamish Weatherly.
“UNICEF Pacific office is responding to the emergency with specific attention to water, sanitation and hygiene given that cases of typhoid and cholera are likely to rise in the coming days,” he added. This followed fresh reports from the Ministry of Health that 3 cases of patients with diarrhea containing blood has been confirmed in the village of Tavewa on the Cyclone affected island of Vanua Levu.
More emergency supplies were sent to affected areas in the Northern and Eastern Division yesterday on a government ship. These include 15 Emergency Health Kits, 10 tents for temporary school shelters, 10 Enhanced Educational Kits (which are a combination of educational and recreational materials such as books, pens, flipcharts, soccer balls, volley balls, etc), 1,300 water containers, 4,000 bars of antibacterial soap, water purifying tablets, communication material explaining how to purify water and “Emergency Hands” – communication materials promoting key sanitation and hygiene behaviours.
Each Emergency Health Kit can be used for 1,000 people and contains medical supplies such as dressing trays, forceps and antibiotics, as well as oral rehydration salts.
“At present, UNICEF’s priority is to provide life saving essentials to children and their mothers. Clean water and safe hygiene systems are the most critical need, and must be put into place as soon as possible, said Mr. Weatherly, adding that “when clean water and safe hygiene are unavailable, the risk of life-threatening diarrhoea and infectious diseases increase dramatically.”
UNICEF staff are conducting an assessment in conjunction with officials from Government in the Eastern Division.
For more details and the latest situation report, please go to our website www.unicef.org/pacificislands or contact Donna Hoerder, Communications Specialist – External Relations on (679) 9265518 or Hamish Weatherly, Emergency Coordinator (679) 908 7296.