WHO's response to ongoing disasters
19 October 2011. Throughout 2011, the Western Pacific has been affected by a string of disasters. Cambodia, the Philippines and Viet Nam are all currently in the midst of flooding that has left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
In some areas, the floodwaters have persisted since mid-August, displacing communities and destroying infrastructure and hectares of crops. In late September and early October, the two typhoons, Nesat and Nalgae, passed through the Philippines, China, and Viet Nam, worsening the flooding and leaving further destruction in the affected communities.
While some countries are struggling to cope as they are inundated with water, the islands in the Pacific are left with barely enough water. Tuvalu and Tokelau are the Pacific islands that have recently declared States of Emergency due to drought, on 28 September 2011 and 3 October 2011, respectively. Samoa and the Cook Islands are feeling the threat of this year's prolonged dry season as well, with water rationing in place for the entire population of the two countries.
The health effects of both extreme weather conditions include high risks of waterborne, foodborne, and vectorborne diseases and malnutrition.
The World Health Organization, through its Regional Office in the Western Pacific and its individual country offices, is currently assisting these affected nations. As the lead organization in the health cluster, WHO has been continuously monitoring and assessing the health situations to provide technical support and coordination wherever needed. WHO has also distributed emergency supplies as warranted by the severity of these events.
The recovery and steps forward, for many countries in the Western Pacific, including Japan and New Zealand, which were devastated by disasters earlier this year, will be ongoing and long-term support will be essential.