iCare4UandMe Foundation

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Factors increasing risks to health

  1. Interruption of safe water, sanitation and cooking facilities due to disruption of electricity and fuel supplies. The populations displaced are at immediate and high risk of outbreaks of water/sanitation/hygiene-related and foodborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, shigellosis due to Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (Sd1), and hepatitis A and E.

  2. Population displacement with overcrowding. Populations in the affected areas and relief centres have a potentially higher risk of acquiring acute respiratory infections (ARI) associated with crowding. Increased risk of measles and meningitis is also associated with overcrowding.

  3. Increased exposure to disease vectors. Displacement of populations can result in increased exposure to disease-carrying vectors, increasing the risk of malaria and dengue as well as other less commonly reported illnesses such as Japanese encephalitis, hantavirus and chikungunya. Flooding may initially flush out mosquito breeding, which can restart when the waters recede. The lag time is usually around 6-8 weeks before the onset of increased malaria or dengue transmission.

  4. Malnutrition and communicable diseases. The combination of malnutrition and communicable diseases creates the potential for a significant public health problem, particularly in infants and children. Malnutrition compromises natural immunity, leading to more frequent, severe and prolonged episodes of infections. Severe malnutrition often masks symptoms and signs of communicable diseases, making prompt clinical diagnosis and early treatment more difficult.

  5. Disruption of critical services is of immediate concern, including the damage to infrastructure and the disruption of the health, social and security networks caused by flooding. This can prevent access both to the usual services as well as to the emergency medical, surgical and obstetric services put in place in response to this emergency.

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