The United Nations has called for funding to help meet health needs in areas of Myanmar that are rebuilding after this May’s devastating Cyclone Nargis which claimed some 140,000 lives and left 800,000 others homeless.
Dozens of heads of diplomatic missions, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) converged for a meeting in the capital Yangon yesterday, followed by a field visit to health facilities today.
“The past seven months’ experience of responding to the health needs of the cyclone-affected population has shown that effective aid delivery can be achieved,” said Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. “At the same time, the cyclone has resulted in a significantly increased level of general vulnerability amongst the population.”
He cautioned that progress could unravel unless coordinated efforts are made to support the country’s health system.
Two-thirds of the funds for the UN’s $451 million appeal have been met, but agriculture and early recovery sectors are lagging with only 25 per cent and 39 per cent of needs met so far.
Despite fears, a ‘second wave of death’ has been averted, with nearly 750,000 people having been treated in the Ayeyarwady Delta by health providers. The disease surveillance reporting system – set up with Myanmar’s Health Ministry – has helped to prevent disease outbreaks and malnutrition through vaccination campaigns and other activities.