UN agency seeks $28 million to fund health plan after Myanmar cyclone

31 May 2008

The United Nations health agency is calling for $28 million to fund a six-month action plan to help survivors of this month's catastrophic cyclone in Myanmar and to support efforts to rebuild the country's health-care system.

The plan is designed for the areas most affected by Cyclone Nargis earlier this month – the Ayeyarwady Delta region and Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city – with a particular focus on people living in temporary shelters and relocations, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a press statement yesterday in Geneva.

“We must help repair and revitalize Myanmar's health services and replace the damaged medical equipment in affected facilities,” said Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General at WHO and head of the agency group set up to respond to the cyclone emergency.

“Our goal is to treat survivors and provide them with care and support by building a health system that can withstand future natural disasters.”

UN humanitarian agencies estimate that more than 77,000 people have died and 55,000 others are missing since Cyclone Nargis struck on 2 May. As many as 500,000 to 600,000 people, mainly in the delta, have had to be relocated.

The cyclone destroyed about half of the health-care system in the delta and Yangon, according to WHO, which says the money raised for the action plan will be used in part to strengthen surveillance against potential outbreaks of infections diseases, immunize locals for measles and polio, and provide extra emergency medicines, equipment and insecticide-treated bed nets.

Local health workers will also be given training to improve their skills and knowledge under the action plan, which is expected to be carried out by WHO, other UN agencies and more than two dozen international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stressed that authorities in Myanmar must ensure that more NGO workers are granted visas and access to the affected regions, and that the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the delta region is done on a voluntary basis.

 

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