WHO responds rapidly to health needs from flash floods in Solomon Islands

News release

10 April, 2014 - Heavy rains from 3 to 5 April 2014 resulted in flash flooding in Honiara, the capital city of Solomon Islands. The Government declared a state of emergency in Honiara and the rest of Guadalcanal province. Over 52,000 people are affected across the entire country; many have lost their homes and livelihoods. The death toll has risen to 23.

“We are very concerned about the situation in Solomon Islands. WHO rapidly deployed a team of health experts to Honiara to assess and address the life-saving needs of the people in the affected area. WHO has provided funds for emergency relief, and are on standby to provide further assistance as required,” said Dr Liu Yunguo, Director of WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support.

In Guadalcanal province, river systems across the northwest, central and north of the island have flooded, destroying homes, damaging bridges and displacing families. Water supplies and infrastructure including sewerage and electricity have been damaged. Food, water, clothing blankets, mosquito nets and cooking utensils are needed. Up to 10,000 residents are displaced, with more than 9000 people in 24 evacuation centres. Several cases of diarrhoea and malaria have been reported in the evacuations centres.

“Now the main concern is disease - preventing disease outbreak is a priority. We are working closely with Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) to provide necessary support, including strengthening surveillance to rapidly detect disease outbreaks and other potential health risks related to food and water contamination.” Ms Audrey Aumua, acting WHO Representative in Solomon Islands, emphasized.

The health needs from the flooding are significant. WHO staff on the ground, and from Suva-based office and regional office in Manila are working around the clock to match the needs of Solomon Islands with incoming assistance. WHO and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services are leading the health response, and together with development partners, health agencies are working to ensure coordinated and effective external assistance is available where needed to save lives.

This flooding in the Solomon Islands comes just over one year after a tsunami displaced thousands of people in February 2013 and less than one year a widespread dengue outbreak from January to May 2013.

For more information, please contact
Ms Joy Rivaca Caminade
Communications officer in Honiara, Solomon Islands
caminadej@wpro.who.int
+63 920 9833427

Ms Helen Yu
Communications Officer in Suva, Fiji
yuji@wpro.who.int
+679 323 4136

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