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UN Health Agency Rushes Aid To Indonesia

UN Health Agency Rushes Aid To Quake-Struck Parts Of Indonesia

New York, May 29 2006

As rescue teams search for survivors following Saturday's devastating earthquake on the island of Java, Indonesia, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it is sending emergency equipment to the area and will help to support vaccination campaigns while setting up a disease surveillance system there.

The latest available figures show that an estimated 5,000 people died and several thousand were injured, including some 1,500 very seriously injured patients who need urgent medical evacuation and care, the Geneva-based agency said. About 200,000 people are displaced from their homes.

WHO has sent vehicles loaded with medicines and communications equipment into the area, including with emergency health kits containing drugs and medical supplies for 50,000 people for three months, along with surgical kits to support 600 operations.

The agency will also help to set up a surveillance system in order to detect and control outbreaks of communicable diseases similar to that which was used to prevent outbreaks in Aceh following the tsunami. WHO will also help to organize vaccination campaigns against measles, which can be a major killer and spreads rapidly in crowded areas. Bantul District, south of Yogyakarta, with a population of about 790,000, is reported to be the worst hit with the majority of houses destroyed. At least one of the six hospitals in the there has been destroyed and the others are overcrowded.

Prior to the earthquake there were 29,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the province who had been moved out of their communities as a precautionary measure against the possible eruption of Mt. Merapi. Clean water, safe sanitation and waste removal will rapidly be needed, WHO warned, particularly for IDPs, in order to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

ENDS

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