After the earthquakes, the WHO fears a major health crisis
The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for the urgent restoration of essential services in Turkey and Syria, fearing a major health crisis that would cause even more damage than the earthquakes themselves.
< p>At a press conference in Geneva, Robert Holden, head of earthquake response at the WHO, explained that the immediate objective was to save lives, but that “at the same time, it is imperative to ensure that those who survived the initial disaster continue to survive.”
“We are clearly concerned that […] a secondary health crisis [may emerge]” and exacerbate the health risks already existing in the region, added Dr. Adelheid Marschang, another emergency manager. at the WHO.
In the case of Syria, the authorities mainly fear diseases diarrheal diseases, such as cholera, but also respiratory diseases, leishmaniasis and psychological and physical trauma, insisted Ms. Marschang.
Humanitarian organizations are particularly concerned about the spread of the epidemic of cholera, which has reappeared in Syria.
According to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, around 85,000 cases of cholera have been reported in Syria since the outbreak began in late August 2022.
The disease, which threatens more than a billion people in the world, is favored by the absence of sewage systems or drinking water, he pointed out.
WHO also fears a deterioration in the health status of people who suffer from chronic diseases or non-communicable diseases, due to the interruption of health services.
“There are many people who survived and are now in the open in horrific and worsening conditions,” Holden said, noting that water, fuel and power supplies, and communications are severely disrupted.
“We need to make sure people have the essentials to survive in the coming period,” he added.
Failing to do so, he warned , “we really risk seeing a secondary catastrophe which could cause more damage to people than the initial catastrophe if we do not act at the same rhythm and with the same intensity as for search and rescue operations”.