UN health agency provides safe water and disaster training in flooded Suriname

18 May 2006

The regional arm of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is helping the authorities in Suriname reduce the health risks associated with the torrential rainfall and flooding this month that have displaced up to 20,000 people and left large areas of the country under water.

The regional arm of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is helping the authorities in Suriname reduce the health risks associated with the torrential rainfall and flooding this month that have displaced up to 20,000 people and left large areas of the country under water.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said it mobilized experts from its emergency and disaster program to assist in health needs assessment and resource mobilization. These experts are helping reduce flood-associated health risks, especially malaria and diarrhoea, and, potentially, leptospirosis and typhoid fever.

In this context, PAHO has ordered water purification tablets to ensure that each family in the affected areas will be adequately supplied with clean drinking water.

"It's a simple measure that will help in preventing cases of diarrhoea among the displaced people," PAHO Representative Stephen Simon noted.

As the floodwaters rose, residents evacuated 157 villages, abandoning thatched-roof homes and their livelihoods.

With an eye on future threats to the country’s water and sanitation, PAHO brought in an international expert in sanitary engineering who has carried out an initial assessment and made recommendations for improvement.

It also helped Suriname's National Centre for Disaster Control set up a crisis centre by giving support on logistics, finance, administration, information technology and communications. Experts from PAHO’s computerized humanitarian supply management system have been assisting the national response centre and training local staff to use the system.

 

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