NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–2 March 2010 – Seven weeks after a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, health needs remain great, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today, emphasizing the need for stepped-up disaster risk reduction and early recovery efforts to help the devastated nation.
The scale and complexity of the crisis in the wake of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake means the emergency response phase will continue for months to come, according to the latest health bulletin.
“Many lives have been saved by the speed and generosity the world showed in its first response in the first days and weeks after the earthquake,” it said. “Nonetheless, there is still a tremendous amount to be done.”
Of the $1.4 billion called for in the revised humanitarian appeal launched last month, $134 million is earmarked for health-related needs.
One of the biggest challenges foreseen in the coming weeks is moving patients in hospitals to external locations where they can still receive the care they need.
Needs are continuing to be assessed as the reconstruction process continues, ahead of a meeting later this month bringing together all major partners, including the UN, the Haitian Government, the World Bank and the European Commission.
Dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have set up 160 sites – both fixed and mobile clinics – across Haiti.
There have been no indications of an increase in infectious diseases, and respiratory infections are the main cause of illness, followed by trauma/injury, diarrhoea and suspected cases of malaria.
In response to an assessment made by Haiti’s national blood programme, the American Red Cross, Bolivia, Ireland and the Dominican Republic have made blood donations.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today reported that the top priority now is to provide people with waterproof shelter materials, as the rainy season approaches.
To date, over 500,000 people – or 40 per cent of those in need – have received emergency shelter materials. An additional 232,000 tarpaulins and 22,000 tents are on their way to Haiti for immediate distribution.
For its part, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners have helped more than 4.3 people in the hardest-hit city, the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as the rest of the country.
The agency is assisting the Government plan a more targeted food distribution to provide 300,000 families, or 1.5 million people, with rice, beans, oil, salt and other supplies.