Vanuatu: One month on since double cyclones, rising cases of Leptospirosis a concern

Lulu Vuti, 53, from North Efate receives relief items from Vanuatu Red Cross volunteers after double cyclones devastated his community.

Lulu Vuti, 53, from North Efate receives relief items from Vanuatu Red Cross volunteers after double cyclones devastated his community.

Photo: Philippe Carillo / IFRC

Port Vila, 31 March 2023 – There are grave concerns over the increase in Leptospirosis cases, a bacterial disease, one month on from the double category 4 cyclones in Vanuatu. The country has reported 19 new cases of Leptospirosis and three deaths since the cyclone passed. The majority of cases have been in Santo and Efate islands, with a few cases in Malekula, Pentecost, Malo and Erromango.

Vanuatu Red Cross is working in coordination with authorities to curb the situation with health awareness in communities across the six provinces.

Vanuatu Red Cross Secretary General, Dickinson Tevi said:

"It is usually in the aftermath of any cyclone that we see an increase in diseases such as Leptospirosis. Flooded waters have contaminated water sources, animals have been affected, and people who are in contact with these animals and infected water sources, usually get it."

"Our volunteers are raising awareness on these issues, including to watch out for symptoms, when they visit the communities with relief distributions. Teams are also raising awareness on other diseases such as typhoid and dengue fever which are also common in the aftermath of a cyclone. They are advising communities to practice safe hygiene and to boil all drinking water. Cleaning their surroundings is also important to prevent dengue fever."

Vanuatu Red Cross has so far reached over 9,000 people with immediate relief assistance. Over 1,000 shelter toolkits, 2,500 tarpaulins, 1,600 mosquito nets, 800 hygiene kits, 250 dignity kits which includes sanitary hygiene items for women and girls, and 1,400 jerry cans for storing water have been distributed to severely affected communities.

The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continue to work with Vanuatu Red Cross and partners to provide essential support to the teams on the ground. Emergency funds totalling 799,389 Swiss Francs has been released to support Vanuatu Red Cross with their operations over the next six months – until September, 2023.

Head of the IFRC Pacific Office, Katie Greenwood, said:

"We continue to provide critical support to Vanuatu Red Cross and the affected communities. Families are slowly picking up the pieces and the Red Cross is right there assisting them get back on their feet.”

“In the coming weeks and months, we will focus on early recovery efforts in the form of water source rehabilitation through rainwater harvesting and restoring livelihoods through cash voucher assistance.”

For more information, contact:

In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 998 3688, [email protected]

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