Government of Japan targets disease surveillance, prevention, and health promotion in post Haiyan relief efforts

WHO/F. Guerrero
Japanese senators receive an update on health issues emerging in the wake of typhoon Haiyan from Dr. Cirilo Galindez, Officer in Charge of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center. From left to right, Japanese interpreter, Kawano Yoshihiro, Dr Akino Kozo, Dr Cirilo Galindez.

The Government of Japan has donated US$ 3 million of their total response package to WHO for a disease outbreak prevention program in the typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) affected areas of the Philippines.

Supporting the existing activities of the Philippine Department of Health and WHO, the funding provides assistance in three areas: strengthening disease early warning systems, widespread vaccinations for children under five, and health and hygiene promotion.

"Having a healthy population is at the heart of recovery for these communities, so being able to use funding from donors such as the Government of Japan to monitor what is happening on the ground, prevent disease outbreaks before they happen, and provide information to communities about health matters is vitally important," said Dr Julie Hall, WHO Representative in the Philippines.

Improving surveillance

The funding from the Government of Japan is being used to bolster the efforts of the Department of Health by training and equipping more people for surveillance and response such as using the "surveillance in post extreme emergencies and disasters" or SPEED system.

The SPEED system collects data from health and evacuation centers before analysing it for potential communicable disease outbreaks. SPEED assists health officials to provide timely and targeted responses to emerging issues.

Mass immunization for children

Disease prevention is another area of focus for the funds with the rollout of a mass immunization program for children under five. 500,000 children are benefitting from measles immunizations, 600,000 children from polio vaccine, and 500,000 infants from the reestablishment of routine immunizations.

Health and hygiene

The funding is also supporting 100,000 of the most vulnerable community members through health and hygiene promotion activities and training community volunteers.

Major donors to WHO for Haiyan

Other major donors to WHO efforts in typhoon Haiyan affected areas include: Australia, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America, and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).