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As post-cyclone resettlement, 200 000 people lack access to health services in Mozambique

Maputo, 21 June 2019 – 94 health facilities damaged or destroyed by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth remain..

Maputo, 21 June 2019 – 94 health facilities damaged or destroyed by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth remain unsafe and 200 000 people who have been resettled live more than 5 km away from a functioning health facility, according to a recent Post-Disaster Needs Assessment and latest data.

“The ongoing relocation of families to new resettlement areas presents new challenges for access to heath,” said Dr Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique. “At the resettlement sites, there is limited access to essential health care, limited or no access to water and sanitary facilities. The fact that some health facilities remain damaged is a huge risk to health.”

Humanitarian partners continue supporting the population affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique shifting gradually from emergency to early recovery interventions. Urgent health priorities include delivery of basic health services for the affected population – especially at resettlement sites – building back better, strengthening surveillance and laboratory capacities.

Build back better with safe hospitals

With 14 per cent of the health infrastructure in the affected provinces damaged, there is an urgent need for construction of health facilities in districts that already had few health facilities and are now hosting resettled families.

Strengthen disease surveillance, response and laboratory capacity

Many communities in resettlement sites have no disease surveillance. There is need for health-facility based, event-based and community-based surveillance and to strengthen the national surveillance system to address acute vulnerability in the coming days and weeks.

There is also need to strengthen laboratory capacities at national and provincial levels and in health facilities to ensure timely processing of specimens.

Delivery of health services to affected population

Resumption of health service delivery is in progress with many challenges. Access to power is disrupting the immunization programmes cold chain; damaged infrastructure is a barrier to service delivery; and the settlement of population far from health facilities is overstretching the already weak health system.

Improve preparedness

In the context of regular natural disasters in the country and the threat of climate change, there is need for multi-hazard capacities and contingency plans at national, provincial and district level.

WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to strengthen the capacity of its emergency response teams. It is also supporting the development of a national manual for emergencies to outline what to do from the acute phase to the secondary, and into rebuilding and recovery.

In addition, there is need for health worker care including psychosocial support for affected health workers and their families. Community members, including children, also need to be informed on how to protect their health in the event of a disaster.

The Ministry of Health has identified need for an Emergency Operations Centre with focus on knowledge transfer to strengthen technical and logistical expertise.

Lessons learned and planning the way forward

Marking three months since Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique and a grade 3 emergency was declared, WHO conducted a Joint Operations Review (JOR) between 11-12 June, focused on immediate action steps to provide life-saving health services to resettled communities and medium-term action for continued health service provision.

“Mozambique will never be the same. These experiences have provided many lessons and opportunities to strengthen the health system. My hope is we will have enough resources to take action on these lessons and build back better so that we do not undo all the progress when the next disaster strikes,” said Dr Cabral.

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth

Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth, which made landfall on 14 March and 25 April, caused massive devastation and interruption to health services in Mozambique, affecting 1.5 million people and leading to a UN system-wide scale up and classification as a Grade 3 Emergency according to WHOs Emergency Response Framework.

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