Disaster Risk Management for Health

Heavy rains cause flooding in Fiji

30 January 2012. The Government of Fiji declared a national emergency on
25 January 2012 to deal with emergency situation caused by heavy rains from
23 to 25 January. Heavy rainfall was experienced over the western and northern divisions as a result of northwest winds pushing a layer of monsoonal air down over Fiji. A broad band of clouds and rain remained active stretching from Vanuatu to Fiji then southeast to Tonga. High tides enhanced further flooding in Ba and Nadi and other coastal low-lying areas of Fiji.

Flooding in Fiji has resulted in 11 deaths and forced 715 individuals (393 adults and 322 children) to seek shelter in evacuation centres as of 11:00 A.M. until 27 January. With the 33 evacuation centres located in Nadi (17), Ba (9), Tavua (5) and Nanu (2), 14 remained functional as on 30 January, mainly in the western division.

Access to affected areas remained a challenge as a number of roads and bridges were inaccessible in Nadi, Ba and other affected areas. A curfew was imposed in Nadi for security reasons but was lifted in the morning. Adequate water supply in the affected areas was one of the significant issues. The government is ensuring clean water to essential services such as hospitals and clinics.

Public health situation

  • There are now 19 cases of dengue confirmed in Labasa against a baseline of one to two cases per month. No cases of dengue were reported in the west or central divisions.
  • A few cases of confirmed dengue and leptospirosis were reported prior to flooding.
  • Three cases of typhoid were detected; two in an evacuation centre and one from a remote village.
  • There was a close monitoring of public health situation.
  • A number of health facilities were damaged and a few were inundated by
  • Most of the hospitals and health centres in the west are operational. Detailed infrastructure assessments are underway.
  • In some places, subdivisional hospitals and health centres could not provide full services because of the unavailability of electric power and water supply though efforts are on to supply water through Fiji Police Force and Ministry of Works and Transport and back-up generators.

Health intervention

  • The Ministry of Health mobilized health teams to provide essential emergency health care and medical supplies for distribution to all health facilities.
  • Cases reported were leptospirosis (Western Division); dengue fever with admissions in Lautoka Hospital and a report of one death; diarrhoea and suspected cases of typhoid.
  • The Ministry of Health deployed teams to monitor health issues related to
    post-flood environments.
  • Water and electricity were reportedly fully restored in all health facilities in the Western Division.
  • Adequate emergency drugs were available in all health facilities.
  • Environmental health interventions reported by the Ministry of Health included disinfection of all evacuation centres in Lautoka and anti-dengue spraying in Nadi. Some 10 000 water purification tablets were distributed to the Western Health Office. This is to ensure safe drinking water for people and serve as a preventative measure against any outbreak of diarrhoea.
  • Water supply problems (low to no pressure) in many hospitals such as Nadi Hospital and Ba Mission Hospital have reportedly been addressed.
  • Electricity and water supply have been restored at Namarai Health Centre.

WHO support

  • WHO stands by to assist the Ministry of Health with testing and other assistance as requested.
  • Health cluster lead by WHO is coordinating the health sector response jointly with the Ministry of Health.
  • The WHO Fiji office is maintaining close contact with the Ministry of Health.
  • A joint (Ministry of Health and UN) assessment team is ready for a comprehensive assessment to take care of early recovery requirements. WHO is expected to join the assessment team.
  • The Western Pacific Regional Office has provided US$ 5000 to take care of immediate needs.
  • The WHO Fiji office is exploring fund mobilization through the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to procure reagents and other supplies.