US$ 314,000 will be used to provide emergency health care to 5,000 families and prevent possible disease outbreaks
Asunción, Paraguay, 22 August 2014 (PAHO/WHO) — The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) will receive US$ 314,000 from the United Nation's Central Emergency Fund (CERF) for the provision of medical care to some 5,000 families affected by flooding in recent months in Paraguay's Chaco region. The funds will also be used to prevent disease outbreaks.
"PAHO/WHO is supporting the Paraguayan Government in its response to this emergency so that the affected families receive the care they need and those with preexisting diseases may continue with their required treatments," noted the Representative of PAHO/WHO-Paraguay, Carlos Castillo Solorzano. "These funds will also help prevent outbreaks through better epidemiological surveillance and health promotion activities," he added.
Almost 44,000 families in Paraguay were affected by recent heavy rains and flooding. Rural residents in eight departments were displaced, crops were lost, homes flooded, and roads blocked.
Several health centers were also severely affected, through loss of equipment and structural damage, which, along with access problems caused by road closures, compromise their ability to sustain health services delivery. Additionally, lack of access to safe water and inadequate sanitary conditions increase disease risks. Not taking the necessary preventive measures could contribute to the spread of waterborne diseases, such as shigellosis; as well as hepatitis A; diseases spread by animals, such as leptospirosis; and respiratory and diarrheal diseases.
In response to this situation, PAHO/WHO and its partners plan to continue a series of activities in the departments of Alto Paraguay and Presidente Hayes and in communities in the capital city of Asunción. These include:
- mobilization of emergency brigades to affected areas to provide basic care to high-risk populations;
- procurement of emergency supplies for basic health care;
- distribution of basic medical kits and reproductive and sexual health supplies to health centers;
- ensuring access to essential medicines to prevent chronic diseases treatment interruption;
- dissemination of information on respiratory and gastrointestinal disease prevention measures, vector control, the signs and symptoms of obstetric risk, and the availability of health services during emergency situations;
- strengthening of prevention activities and surveillance for potential infectious disease outbreaks.
The interventions will help support efforts coordinated by Paraguay's Ministry of Health with humanitarian aid providers through a shared response plan that aims to reach 14,000 families.
The CERF funds will provide 30% financing of the total cost of the health care project. PAHO/WHO will continue seeking resources to finalize the rest of the initiative and reach all of the affected population.
These resources are in addition to US$ 715,000 in emergency funds recently granted to PAHO/WHO by CERF to develop a project to restore access to safe water and sanitation services in two departments of Paraguay affected by the flooding.
CERF is a United Nations emergency fund for relief operations that was officially established by the U.N. Secretary-General on 9 March 2006. The primary objective in any emergency, regardless of origin, is to reduce preventable deaths and the burden of morbidity and disability.
PAHO works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Region. It was founded in 1902 and is the oldest continuing international public health organization in the world. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and the specialized health agency within the inter-American system.