Namibia Floods: Red Cross and WHO partner to prevent disease outbreaks

Published: 16 May 2011 13:19 CET

By Tapiwa Gomo in Namibia

A new partnership between Namibia Red Cross and the World Health Organisation (WHO) country office aims to prepare communities to better respond to the public health aspect of flood emergencies.

WHO will provide training to about 200 Red Cross volunteers on health promotion as well as on gathering disease surveillance data to ensure a swift response to potential disease outbreaks. The partnership will intensify health promotion and hygiene education interventions, strengthen disease surveillance and ensure that communities access health services using both organizations’ key strengths.

Making the announcement, the Secretary General of the Namibia Red Cross, Ms Dorkas Kapembe-Haiduwa, said: “This partnership couldn’t have come at the right time, as we are on the ground, we are able to assess gaps and ensure that the Red Cross and its volunteers are able to disseminate health information and work with WHO to reduce the impact of potential disease outbreaks."

Although floods are receding, the risk of communicable diseases outbreaks remains high due to stagnant water, poor sanitation and inadequate access to potable water.

Dr Magda Robalo, WHO’s representative in the area, said: “We recognise that we need to continue to be proactive and this collaborative effort with the Red Cross will ensure that we minimize the further impact of the flooding and potential disease outbreaks as flood water recede.”

According to WHO preliminary data, 17,000 diarrhoeal cases have been reported between January to April 2011 in Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto, Caprivi and Kavango regions compared to 24,000 during the same period in 2010. Health access is improving with the percentage of health outreach points inaccessible in the flood affected regions reducing from 50 per cent in early April to about 20 per cent now. Despite this, 10 per cent of health facilities remain completely cut-off due to inaccessible roads.

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