WHO warns of infectious diseases outbreak in Yolanda-hit areas

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THE World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned of a possible outbreak of infectious diseases in areas affected by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name: Haiyan).

Dr. Julie Lyn Hall said infectious diseases such as measles are likely to happen within the next few weeks because almost all of the medical facilities in Eastern Visayas, particularly in Tacloban City, were devastated by the typhoon.

To prevent the outbreak, she said the Department of Health (DOH), with the support of the WHO, will be conducting massive vaccination of children against measles and polio as well as give them Vitamin A.

“Only few percentage of the children in affected areas were vaccinated to fight measles, and so they should be vaccinated,” she said.


She also said that at least 24,000 babies will be born this month in the entire area affected by the super typhoon.

“That’s a lot of babies that need to be delivered in clean conditions,” she said.

Because of this, Hall called for an immediate restoration of birthing facilities to provide health care for newly born babies in the typhoon-ravaged provinces.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) also said that some 230,000 pregnant women affected by the typhoon face heightened risks in the storm’s aftermath.

“They urgently need assistance, particularly the restoration of maternal and newborn health services,” the UNPFA added.

The UNPF reported that around 900 deliveries are taking place every day in the storm-hit areas, many in makeshift clinics, in the absence of functioning medical facilities and skilled birth attendants.

According to the group, each day, approximately 130 of these mothers will experience potentially life-threatening complications.

“In these situations, the sudden loss of medical support puts women and their newborns are at higher risk of death or injury,” Genevieve Ah-sue, acting UNPFA Representative in the Philippines said.

The UNPFA said there are also around 157,000 mothers who have delivered in the past six months who need care to prevent diseases that could lead to maternal or infant deaths.

“Babies continue to be born even in emergencies like this one, and women have to give birth without access to even the most basic essentials for safety delivery,” said Ah-sue.

As part of the United Nation’s (UN) Humanitarian Action Plan for typhoon Yolanda, UNPFA is mobilizing P172 million to support the restoration of health services to restore life-saving maternal and newborn care, including emergency obstetrics care to ensure safe births.

RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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