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    WHO assists flood victims in Nigeria

    APA-Abuja (Nigeria)

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stepped up efforts to provide life-saving assistance, especially basic medical care, to flood victims in Nigeria to prevent disastrous epidemics.

    About 826,000 Nigerians are severely affected by heavy flooding after the banks of

    Rivers Niger and Benue burst, following heavy rains in August.

    According to the National Emergency Management Agency, the disaster is now affecting 12

    out of 36 states with 176,300 people displaced, more than 150,000 hectares of farmland

    inundated, 17,800 houses washed away, and 321 roads and bridges destroyed.

    “As of Monday, the floods had claimed about 200 lives. A state of national disaster has been

    declared in the four most-affected states: Kogi, Niger, Anambra and Delta,” the WHO said.

    The WHO said the United Nations and its partners were carrying out rapid assessments and

    scaling up support to the government’s emergency response agencies.

    In particular, the WHO said it had deployed experts to strengthen surveillance and early

    warning systems, while also working to ensure that essential drugs were available in

    newly-created camps for displaced families.

    It said the head of WHO in Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, in a statement released

    on Thursday, said the flood had severely affected the health of the people.

    In addition to the immediate destructions and loss of lives, he said, floods could severely

    affect the health of the affected population, even after the water levels have receded.

    “Floods and their consequences – including a lack of drinkable water, shelter, and

    overflowing sanitation systems – can easily lead to the spread of communicable and

    water-borne diseases, such as cholera and malaria.

    “In addition, access to healthcare and essential drugs can be difficult if health facilities are


    “We can efficiently mitigate these risks if they are properly assessed and if disaster response

    measures are in place,” Alemu explained.

    To facilitate the mobilisation of resources for the response to the flooding, the International

    Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an emergency appeal,

    seeking close to $5.5 million.

    The funds are to support 300,000 of the most vulnerable flood-affected people for the next

    nine months, with shelter and basic household items; protection and livelihoods assistance,

    including through cash transfers; health care provision; water and sanitation supplies.

    “The country’s Northeast zone is in the grip of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises

    due to conflict, and already suffering various cholera outbreaks in the states of Borno,

    Adamawa and Yobe, making it crucial for humanitarian partners to effectively monitor and

    control the effects of the flooding in the rest of the country.

    “In the coming days, the UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, and the head of the UN

    Development Programme, Achim Steiner, will visit the region, spending Friday and Saturday

    in Nigeria, and then moving on to neighbouring Chad,” the UN agency said.


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