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‘Flood victims need more assistance’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reiterated that it is imperative to maintain a strong and robust disease surveillance system in the districts that were hit by floods early this year so that new or unusual health events are promptly reported and dealt with swiftly.

The concern comes in the wake of information that government has started to decommission some of the flood victims’ camps while several others, particularly in Nsanje still need health services.

Speaking in Lilongwe on Monday when his organisation presented K18 million worth of medicines and materials for Ebola preparedness and flood response to the Ministry of Health, WHO Country Representative Eugene Nyarko also underscored the need to continue preparing for any Ebola eventuality.

He said despite some West African countries – where the deadly virus particularly exacted a heavy toll – have been declared Ebola-free, the fight is not over.

“We are also providing some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other items to support the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease preparedness activities. Some of these items are to be used for the training of various health workers in Ebola control work,” Nyarko said of the donation.

He added that the other chunk is to be positioned in selected health institutions to enable them respond appropriately and promptly to any suspected cases of Ebola.

To further improve disease surveillance activities, WHO has also provided the Malawi government with two computers to facilitate data collection, analysis and reporting, especially from the districts which were heavily affected by the floods.

Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Health McPhail Magwira said the ministry is still facing challenges from flood victims especially in Nsanje, Chikwawa and Phalombe.

“The donation will help in reducing morbidity and mortality among the people still in evacuation camps and returnees in both old and new locations,” said Magwira.

He added: “There is political will and government commitment to restoring and maintaining good health of all those affected and traumatised by the floods.”

The PS also disclosed that government has produced a recovery plan and budget where most of the issues are to do with the reconstruction of the health infrastructure using what he described as the ‘Building Bank Better’ rule.

According to Nyarko, some of the donated items were obtained with financial support from the United Nations Humanitarian funding window and the African Public Health Emergency Fund hosted by WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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