UN health agency funds urgent medical supplies in landslide-hit Uganda


10 March - The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is sending $50,000 in emergency funding to Uganda where deadly mudslides and flooding have left hundreds of thousands of people in need of shelter, food, safe water and proper sanitation, and at an increased risk of water-borne diseases.

The $50,000 will be used to procure urgently needed medical supplies, the agency reported. It will also help alleviate the costs associated with relocating or recruiting health workers, assisting with psycho-social support and training village health teams.

At least 92 people have been killed and hundreds of others are unaccounted for after a massive landslide on 1 March in Bududa district, near the extinct volcano of Mount Elgon on the Kenyan border.

More than 300,000 people in the Mount Elgon region and the neighbouring lowlands of Butaleja, Budaka and Tororo districts have been displaced, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 104 people, mostly children, have been reported to suffer from diarrhoea at the Bukalsi Health Centre in Bududa.

Working with the Ugandan Government, which is leading the emergency response, UN officials have said that so far there are no reports of cholera, but warned about the possible health risks of increased malaria, acute malnutrition and psychological disorders.

WHO also cautioned that the likelihood of water-borne disease outbreaks remains high given the lack of proper sanitation at temporary camps, where large numbers of people are huddled, and water systems may be damaged or contaminated.

WHO Uganda is in urgent need of emergency medical and surgical supplies, including medicines and surgical equipment, and water quality surveillance kits. Insecticide-treated bed nets are also required for preventing malaria infection.