Displaying items by tag: Health

Sustained political instability and violence have massive impacts on the health of affected populations. Studies show that more people die of treatable diseases during conflict than they do of conflict-related casualties. This is because the already poor state of health care facilities is often further degraded to a point where diseases that require only basic interventions – such as malaria or diarrhoea – cannot be cured. Human African trypanosomiasis – or Sleeping Sickness as it is more commonly known – is a particularly problematic disease which tends to surge during conflict. Unlike malaria or diarrhoea, it demands difficult diagnostics and…
Zimbabweis facing an extraordinary and multidimensional crisis. An estimated three million Zimbabweans have crossed the Limpopo river into South Africa as a matter of survival; more than three-quarters of the remaining population of nine million face serious food shortages; maternal mortality has tripled since the mid-1990s; a cholera epidemic has infected over 90,000 people, killing over 4,000; one in five adults are HIV positive, and one person dies every four minutes from AIDS; 94% of the population is officially unemployed; and thousands were beaten and intimidated by government security and paramilitary forces during last year’s elections. Political instability and mismanagement…
Dramatic increases in basic commodity prices during 2008 provoked riots in several countries, and were considered a serious threat to people’s food security and national stability. Vulnerability to such an external shock, however, varies depending on the specific context. Factors such as dependency on imports for basic food commodities, government capacity to mitigate the impacts of rising prices, the reliance of the population on markets, political stability and overall living standards all influence the intensity of the crisis and its consequences. To highlight the different impacts of the crisis, Action contre la Faim (ACF) conducted surveys in several countries, including…
ECHO – the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid – funds relief operations for victims of natural disasters and conflicts outside the European Union. Aid is channelled impartially, straight to victims, regardless of their race, religion or political beliefs. Resources are not limitless and priorities are given to acute needs, with a particular focus on situations where mortality is high, sudden and greater than usual trends. A frequently used term to describe this above-average mortality is ‘excess mortality’. A proper needs assessment is therefore a key element to initiate dialogue between ECHO and a partner seeking funding for a project.…
One could be excused for being perplexed regarding the humanitarian response after Cyclone Nargis. On the one hand, it was predicted that, in the wake of the cyclone, we would be faced with thousands of subsequent deaths from disease and malnutrition, and all would be lost unless foreign organisations were immediately present. Meanwhile, the government of Myanmar was strongly reproached for restricting the presence of outside actors. On the other hand, once permission was given, the response to basic needs on the ground was slow, both by the government and by most international actors. Even so – fortunately – the…
Cyclone Nargis presented the humanitarian community with a number of challenges, particularly in relation to access. For many agencies, very limited access to the Delta area was a significant impediment to the response. Many staff remained stranded outside the country awaiting visas to enter, or in-country in Yangon, some distance from the disaster epicentre in Laputta. Agencies already present in Myanmar and with programmes and staff in the Delta were therefore perceived to be in a stronger position to respond immediately to the disaster. However, even for these agencies the movement of international staff was restricted, highlighting once again the…
Myanmar has one of the most serious HIV epidemics in Asia. Contrary to many perceptions, the response to the epidemic is expanding. Funding for the response has gradually increased over recent years. However, coverage remains unacceptably low, donors seem largely unwilling to inject the resources needed to meet health needs and the government itself significantly under-invests in health. The National Strategic Plan on AIDS 2006–2010 issued by the Ministry of Health provides the reference framework for the response. Despite what might be expected given the environment, the Plan was developed in a participatory fashion, is multi-sectoral and up to date…
Although acute physical injuries are the leading cause of human mortality and morbidity in natural disasters, a significant proportion of deaths are a result of poor hygiene and sanitation, inadequate nutrition as well as insufficient health care services due to the destruction of healthcare structure and resources to cope with the diseases prevalent in the affected area. Whilst the provision of basic care following disasters usually focuses on the treatment of acute conditions like injuries, diarrhoea and respiratory infections, as well as more recently on psychosocial and mental health services, the provision of care for chronic diseases is rarely seen…
Emergency Supplementary Feeding Programmes have been widely implemented for a number of decades as part of the standard toolkit of emergency response. Programmes are normally implemented in conjunction with general food distributions in order to address moderate malnutrition in emergencies. While individual implementing agencies routinely monitor and evaluate programme performance, findings are rarely published in peer-reviewed literature. There have been no large-scale studies of the effectiveness of these programmes in emergencies, despite frequent claims of poor performance. This Network Paper reports on a study to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of emergency SFPs, conducted in 2005–2006 by Save the Children…
Once there was a fairy-tale image of the brave and noble humanitarian, who would storm into conflict zones – armed only with vaccines and sacks of food – and indiscriminately save lives, having no other impact that a strictly humanitarian one. In the mid-1990s, that image was shattered. Strikingly common-sensical, Mary Anderson laid out the idea of Do No Harm, based on the realisation that humanitarian assistance takes place within a political context, and that so-called humanitarians, in their eagerness to do good, risked exacerbating tensions and deepening conflicts. Of course, this insight was not new. As long as there…

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