Moroni — Health partners mobilize to meet post-cyclone Kenneth health needs in the Union of the Comoros
Category 4 Hurricane Kenneth struck the Union of the Comoros on 24 April 2019. At the request of the Government, the Ministry of Health, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), coordinates the efforts of national partners, the United Nations system, civil society and bilateral partners to assist the affected populations.
On May 7, trauma kits worth more than US$20,000 were handed over to the Ministry of Health by WHO to strengthen the technical capacity of the El-Maarouf National Hospital Centre. The kits are intended for the management of emergencies and consist of trauma equipment, consumables and drugs designed to ensure the management of surgical operations for 100 patients. "These trauma kits arrive at the hospital at a time when we need them and we thank WHO for it," said Rashid Mohamed Mbaraka Fatma, Minister of Health, Solidarity, Social Protection and Gender Promotion of the Union of Comoros. "Surgical emergencies are for the most part referred to El Maarouf and it is essential that health professionals have adequate equipment to provide care."
"This first donation will be followed by other donations of more than US$50,000 in equipment, consumables and medicines to be distributed in Grande Comore, but also in Anjouan and Mohéli to address the increased risk of malnutrition and waterborne and vector-borne diseases," said Dr Aboudoulaye Diarra, WHO Representative in the Union of Comoros.
Damage caused to agriculture and livestock has contributed to a worsening of living conditions for affected populations, triggering malnutrition among children, due to food insecurity. In addition, the cyclone destroyed 96 water tanks, raising the risk of waterborne diseases.
"We are responding to urgent needs, in coordination with our government partners and civil society organizations including the Comoros Red Cross/Crescent, colleagues from other UN agencies including UNICEF and UNFPA," Dr Diarra added. " I would like to thank Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, for her support, which has enabled the rapid deployment of teams from all three levels of the organization. This has allowed WHO to engage very quickly in interventions to ensure the continuity of health service provision."
As a reminder, strong winds, torrential rains and waves of 6 to 12 metres struck Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli, washing away and destroying houses, schools, crops, power poles and health centres.
The health sector has been particularly affected. The rapid assessment that took place the next day and the day after the event showed that a total of six health facilities were impacted, including the El-Maarouf National Hospital Centre, two regional hospitals in Foumbouni and Mitsamiouli, as well as a health centre in Nioumachoua and two health posts in Mkazi and Tsinimoichongo.
WHO supports the response to Hurricane Kenneth. Two international experts were deployed within 72 hours of the event. A response plan has been developed and donations are one of the actions implemented by WHO.
During a trip to Anjouan and Mohéli between 30 April and 2 May 2019 with the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and Dr Diarra of WHO, President Azali Assoumani said: "The hardest part remains ahead. The health repercussions of this damage, with the destruction of crops, pose a health risk to populations already weakened by the cyclone. We thank the partners for their prompt support."