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Cablegate: Usaid/Ofda Cyclone Sidr Situation Report #4: The Adverse

VZCZCXRO4668
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1838/01 3291310
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251310Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5636
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9380
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1021
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0309
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2606
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8179
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8267
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1908
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0405
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0586
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0036
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DHAKA 001838

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SES-O
DEPT FOR SCA/PB, SCA/EX
DCHA/OFDA FOR ROBERT THAYER
AID/W FOR AA MARK WARD AND ANE ANNE DIX
DCHA/FFP FOR MATTHEW NIMS AND PAUL NOVICK
ROME FOR FODAG
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A TOM DOLAN, ROB BARTON
KATHMANDU FOR USAID NFDA BILL BERGER AND SUE MCINTYRE
TREASURY FOR ELIZABETH WEISS AND SUSAN CHUN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL ASEC CASC AMGT SOCI ECON PINR EAGR SENV
BG

SUBJECT: USAID/OFDA Cyclone Sidr Situation Report #4: The Adverse
Impact of Cyclone Sidr on Public Health


1. Summary. In response to Tropical Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh,
USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) to
assess the humanitarian situation on the ground, provide
recommendations on priority needs, and coordinate relief efforts
with the U.S. Department of Defense, USAID/Bangladesh, and the U.S.
Embassy in Dhaka. Through initial field assessments and
participation in the U.N. health cluster meeting, the USAID/DART
reports that emergency health interventions are prioritizet$after
food, water, sanitation, and hygiene, shelter, and livelihoods
assistance. Although the healthcare system is generally weak in
Bangladesh, Cyclone Sidr did not drastically disrupt the GOB's
capacity to provide health services to affected populations. In
addition, emergency preparedness activities undertaken by the GOB
and international donors, such as the pre-positioning of medical
staff and supplies, have assuaged the adverse impact of the cyclone
on public health. Nevertheless, contaminated water sources and
inadequate sanitation and hygiene conditions are potential factors
for impending outbreaks of water-borne diseases. As such, the GOB
and humanitarian responders should engage in outbreak preparedness
activities, such as the stockpiling of oral rehydration solutions
(ORS) and antibiotics. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS IN CYCLONE-AFFECTED AREAS
--------------------------)------------------ ----

2. On November 15, 2007, Tropical Cyclone Sidr made landfall in
southern Bangladesh with winds of 155 miles per hour. Through
ongoing field assessments, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) and
humanitarian organizations are still collecting and analyzing
information on populations affected by the cyclone. Heavy rains and
resultant flooding from the storm damaged nearly 1.2 million homes,
destroyed nearly 1.7 million acres of crops, and killed 3,033
people, according to the GOB's Disaster Management Bureau and the
U.N. World Food Program as of Novem"uv 23. Victims of the cyclone
also face pervasive challenges due to loss of livestock and
household assets, as well as damage to educational institutions,
roads, and embankments. Although the cyclone affected 31 districts
throughout the country, it particularly devastated Barguna,
Bagerhat, Patuakhali, and Pirojpur eistricts in the south.

--------------------------------------------- -------
USAID/DART INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF HEALTH SITUATION IN AFFECTED AREAS
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. In initial assessments of affected areas, the USAID/DART's water,
sanitation, and hygiene advisor observed that Cyclone Sidr did not
drastically weaken the healthcare system in Bangladesh. `However,
the USAID/DART advisor recommends that the GOB's Ministry of Health
and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and humanitarian organizations engage in
outbreak preparedness activities, as the potential for water- and
vector-borne diseases remains highly likely. Since the healthcare
system is generally weak, outbreaks of cholera and diarrhea may
exceed the GOB's capacity to respond. The USAID/DART advisor
indicated that the potential for outbreaks remains high until water
systems are ensured. Disease surveillance and engaging in outbreak
preparedness activities, such as stockpiling ORS and antibiotics,
would help decrease the spread of water-borne diseases. [Note. The
Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) has also deployed teams
to assess the health situation and these findings will be reported
separately. End note.]

DHAKA 00001838 002 OF 003

---------------------------------------
HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN THE HEALTH SECTOR
---------------------------------------

4. On November 25, members from the USAID/DART attended the U.N.
Disaster Emergency Response (DER) health cluster meeting chaired by
the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO). During this coordination
meeting, GOB officials, international donors, the U.N., and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in the health sector
discussed the public health situation resulting from Cyclone Sidr.
The MOHFW reported that the cyclone has negatively impacted public
health in Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Barisal, Barguna, Patuakhali,
Pirojpur, Jhalokati, and Bhola districts. Affected residents face
various potential public health challenges, including acute
respiratory infections and increased incidents of water- and
vector-borne diseases. In response to the cyclone, the MOHFW
deployed 599 doctors, 23 supervisory physicians, and 691 medical
teams comprising doctors, medical assistance, and paramedics to
affected areas. The Bangladesh army also deployed medical teams to
assist populations affected by the cyclone.

5. GOB and WHO health officials reported that water quality
assurance is a priority humanitarian need to mitigate the adverse
impact of the cyclone on public health. Accrding to the U.N.
initial rapid assessment team, approximately 1.2 million people are
in need of immediate drinking water. Water purification qlays a
vital role in disaster response, as safe drinking water helps
prevent diarrhea and othe2 water-borne diseases such `s cholera. ToM
reduce the likelilood of water-borne disease, USAID/OFDA is
airlifting four add)dional water purification units and four water
containers from the USAID/OFDA warehouse in Dubai. The emergency
relief supplies are scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on or around
November 26.

6. Also linked to health interventions, sanitation needs are
considerable in cyclone-affected areas. The U.N. rapid assessment
team estimated that 1.3 million people are in vital need of
sanitation assistance. Families will inevitably need support
constructing latrines, as storm surge from the cyclone damaged or
destroyed nearly 1.2 million homes, according to the GOB. Likewise,
hygiene promotion is integral in confronting public health
challenges that may arise due to the cyclone. The USAID/DART's
water, sanitation, and hygiene advisor is currently assessing
humanitarian conditions in cyclone-affected areas and will provide
further recommendations for$USAID/OFDA response.

7. Although immediate health needs are generally being met, MOHFW
officials reported the need to replenish buffer stock, acquire
additional medical equipment, and reconstruct damaged health
facilities. The U.N. rapid assessment team identified approximately
523,000 people in need of medicine and medical services. Additional
health needs include advocacy training, health education on the use
of safe drinking water and personal hygiene, and information
coordination and management.

--------------------------------------------- -----
USAID/DART RECOMMENDATIONS ON HEALTH INTERVENTIONS
--------------------------------------------- -----

8. Through initial field assessments and participation in the U.N.

DHAKA 00001838 003 OF 003


health cluster meeting, the USAID/DART reports that emergency health
interventions are a lesser priority than other humanitarian needs in
responding to the cyclone. Primary response drugs are reaching
affected populations, and the GOB does not report a lack of medical
staff assisting cyclone-affected populations. Safe drinking water
and sanitation and hygiene promotion will improve the public health
situation for populations in southern Bangladesh affected by the
cyclone.


PASI

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