WHO continues to support flood response activities in Attapeu Province
3 September 2018, Attapeu Province - It has been more than a month since the Attapeu flood, and the Ministry of Health held the first cross-sectoral coordination meeting between the Government and humanitarian partners on 23 August. All partners and stakeholders working in the field attended the meeting chaired by the Attapeu Provincial Health Director, Dr Onephiew Phothilath.
Water and sanitation work
Disease outbreaks are a real risk following floods, so measures are taken to prevent outbreaks by providing clean water, sanitation facilities, cholera vaccination and raising awareness on importance of drinking clean and boiled water, and following general hygiene practices especially hand hygiene.
Drinking water supply are tested regularly on essential parameters like e-coli, residual chlorine and arsenic to make sure that water quality is safe. Low level arsenic has been detected in two boreholes, so advice was given by WHO to get arsenic level tested during construction of new water source outlets and the need to find arsenic free water table. Household water treatment methods such as ceramic filter and chlorine tab have been provided to encourage families to treat water for drinking and personal hygiene use.
To meet immediate needs, responders followed the basic sanitation standard to provide one latrine per 50 users, and this was gradually upgraded to 20 users per latrine in order to improve access and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Beside water, sanitation and hygiene, WHO environmental health staff works on waste management in the health facilities. Ms Souvanaly provided training to health staff in hospital and health facilities on separating infectious medical waste, sharps from general waste.
Medical warehouse supply chain management
WHO staff Dr Thipphasone Vixaysouk visited a medical warehouse where Ministry of Health staff explained about the stocks in the main Attapeu Province warehouse and how it is distributed to the hospital, health facilities and camps.
Many medical supplies were donated following the floods, and maintaining a warehouse was a challenge. However, pharmacy students from University of Health Sciences were deployed and they quickly helped to sort out the medicines.
Health promotion camp activities for disease prevention
As part of disease prevention, camp activities are organized with separate sessions for adults and children. Dr Thipphasone Vixaysouk, WHO staff provided health education to the community, in explaining how open defecation may spread diseases and why hand washing after using the latrine is needed.
Oral Cholera Vaccine campaign
The Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and WHO launched the first ever cholera vaccination campaign in Lao PDR from 23 to 30 August. About 5,000 doses will be administered mainly to displaced persons in all camps in Sanamxay District.
An additional 19,700 doses will be used in phase two for both displaced persons and the surrounding host communities. In total, 12,350 people will receive the two doses of the vaccine administered in two phases of this campaign until September 2018.
WHO recommends that vaccination against cholera be considered in emergencies like severe flooding where there are increased threats of outbreaks. The vaccination will protect the people living in shelters, while ongoing efforts continued on improving water and sanitation facilities and other control measures to reduce outbreaks.