Health Update, 28 August

Water purification campaign in Monrovia

In order to reduce the risk of further outbreaks of water-borne diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, WHO, in collaboration with UNICEF and other health partners, will carry out a citywide chlorination campaign, starting Friday 29 August. To chlorinate the 5,000 wells in Monrovia in one day, WHO will coordinate a network of 108 water and sanitation workers that have been hired by various NGOs. Each worker will chlorinate 50 wells.

With the rainy season just beginning, garbage can easily enter the wells and repollute them. Therefore, wells will be re-chlorinated every four days. For each round, at least 150 kg of chlorine are needed. WHO has a provision of about 1350 kg of chlorine in its warehouse in Monrovia which will be used to carry out the campaign.

To ensure that the activity is conducted according to general health regulations, WHO will supervise a team of environmental health technicians monitoring the chlorination. The technicians will control the water quality on the day of the chlorination as well as the day after.

Outside Monrovia

Hospital situation

It is still difficult to assess the situation outside Monrovia, due to the prevailing security situation. However, WHO could access three towns outside the capital, Tubmanburg in Bomi County, in the West, and Totota and Salala in Bong County, North East of Monrovia.

The hospital in Tubmanburg was completely looted and vandalized. At the moment, MSF is operating a mobile clinic to provide the population with minimum health care. In the outskirts of Tubmanburg the LURD rebels operate a field hospital. However, there is no doctor available and nurses deliver basic health services. They were found to treat only a small number of patients (17), mainly war-wounded.

In Totota, Bong County, MSF France opened a small in-patient clinic. Phebe, the major referral hospital in Bong County, was relocated to Salala during the crisis and does now surgery for war wounded and obstetric emergencies. Another clinic in Salala is run by the Bong County Health Team that is part of the Ministry of Health. MSF France opened a clinic in a camp for internally displaced people in Salala.

Vaccination Campaign

On Friday, 27 August, WHO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, will carry out a mass measles vaccination campaign in Tubmanburg. Vaccination sites have been identified and a social mobilization team went out today to inform the communities of this activity. Most children outside Monrovia have not received vaccinations. The national immunization services have collapsed, and measles coverage dropped to 29% in the country. Measles is a highly contagious disease and immunization must restart as soon as possible to avoid a major outbreak.