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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Cyclone hit Burmese healthcare

9th June 2008

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that US$28 million will be needed for a healthcare programme to help victims of Tropical Cyclone Nargis in Burma, also known as Myanmar.


WHO and its Health Cluster partners in the country have launched a six-month action plan to provide immediate healthcare for cyclone survivors and to support longer-term efforts to rebuild the country’s ravaged health system.

Aimed specifically at people living in temporary shelters and relocation sites, the plan aims to strengthen disease surveillance and health monitoring.

It will also begin to strengthen and repair support systems like telecommunications and waste disposal in the worst-hit Irrawaddy Delta area, and boost the skills and knowledge of health workers.

WHO assistant director-general Eric Laroche, who is heading the response team, says the aim is to improve the country's existing healthcare systems through the rebuilding programme.

Laroche said the goal was to treat survivors and provide them with care and support by building a health system that could withstand future natural disasters.

The initiative would seek to engage national and international partners to coordinate a joint health sector response to critical and life-threatening gaps in the system, and help strengthen and repair health infrastructure.

Around 50% of Burma's healthcare facilities were destroyed by the storm which ripped through the Irrawaddy Delta in May.

Immediate needs include primary healthcare services and immunisation programmes for measles and polio.

Rapid assessment of the damage to health facilities is needed to understand what is required immediately, WHO said in a statement.

There are further plans to supply additional emergency medicines, equipment, bednets, together with mental health services and psychological support for survivors suffering trauma.

Communicable diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia, tetanus, measles, dengue fever and malaria are also near the top of the agenda.

Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS care and treatment need to be continued, while mosquito-borne diseases need prevention and containment, and snake bites, prevalent as reptiles swim around flooded fields, must be treated properly, WHO said.


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