Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
GENEVA/ADDIS ABABA — Worsening malnutrition and the threat of disease outbreaks are compounding Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis. The World Health Organization is working with the Government of Ethiopia and health partners to support the 4.6 million people needing urgent emergency food relief nationwide.
The number of people needing food assistance is increasing markedly in Ethiopia, and health risks are being compounded by the global food security crisis, the impact of drought on agricultural production and the country’s weak health system. During the coming months, annual rains are expected to again cause large-scale flooding, increasing loss of crops and risk of disease.
“In humanitarian terms, the situation is unacceptable,” said Dr Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General for WHO’s Health Action in Crises Cluster. “The health of millions of Ethiopians is worsening by the day, and the international community must act to support the country’s government to ease this terrible suffering.”
In three regions alone (Somali, SNNP and Eastern Oromiya), the number of government-run feeding centres has risen from 200 three months ago to 605 today. Some 75 000 children aged under 5 need therapeutic and supplementary nutrition support. WHO, UNICEF and nongovernmental organization partners are supporting these centres.
Additional major gaps affecting people’s health and livelihoods are lack of access to safe drinking water, shortages of drugs and medical supplies and insufficient human resources. The areas affected by shortages are also at significant risk of disease outbreaks: diarrhoeal diseases, measles and meningitis. Cases of acute watery diarrhoeal have been reported in 16 districts, and outbreaks of cerebrospinal meningitis in 37 districts. More than 7000 cases of measles have been registered in 38 districts.
WHO works with Federal and regional government partners, UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations to provide better health and nutrition services throughout Ethiopia using emergency mobile teams; deploy drugs, medical and nutrition supplies and staff for emergency action in affected areas; plan the rolling out outpatient therapeutic programmes in the health extension programme which promotes the primary health care approach in Ethiopia; and strengthen disease and nutritional surveillance systems to enable rapid response.
Response efforts include:
– Strengthening disease and nutritional surveillance, particularly for severe acute malnutrition to enable critical response.
– Preventing measles via immunization activities, including vaccinations and vitamin A supplementation. The first phase of supplementary immunization activities had a more than 95 % coverage rate.
– Training and support for health staff and strengthening systems to address health needs.
– Water treatment and hygiene and sanitation promotion interventions to stop the spread of acute watery diarrhoea and other communicable diseases.
– Provision of urgently needed drugs and medical supplies to support health services and therapeutic feeding programmes.
For more information please contact:
Health Action in Crises
World Health Organization
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Telephone: +47 241 39387
Mob: +242 653 70 22