Public health crisis

A public health crisis caused on environmental, infectious, toxic or food insecurity will affect substantial segments of the population.

Public health crisis

A public health crisis caused on environmental, infectious, toxic or food insecurity will affect substantial segments of the population.

Public health crises tend to have the most severe consequences on countries with the weakest health systems in the world. Lack of infrastructure and transparency, poor resource management and communication fosters the spread of disease and can exacerbate the problem that initiated a crisis. In the case of communicable diseases, this situation is often compounded by an unprecedented number of infections and deaths among medical staff or with the displacement of populations.

Pandemic Ebola for example  has spread in West Africa since the beginning of 2014, affecting especially Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The fragile health resources of these countries could not cope alone with this epidemic of unprecedented proportions.

Out of fear of infection, local populations make limited use of the available health centers, which further fuels the epidemic and slows its eradication. However, due to the rapid mobilisation of the international community and of NGOs, the epidemic is now behind us but the question is: for how long? Vigilance must be maintained to avoid the emergence of new sources of infection.

Infectious diseases are not the only public health crisis faced by countries. Malnutrition has plagued many countries and continues to be a significant public health issue, making pregnant women more vulnerable to complications during childbirth and increasing the rates of child mortality.

WAHA’S ACTION

In affirming our commitment to holistic care, WAHA works with local organizations and institutions to respond to public health priorities as well as create sustainable processes by conducting training with local staff to manage public health crises. This includes the management of malnutrition through our primary care initiatives with children as well as pregnant women. In Somalia, we have treated malnutrition of pregnant women and mothers in our obstetric care units. In many other settings, WAHA provides nutritional support and food supplements for under-nourished children and infants, as well as nutritional counselling and breastfeeding support for mothers.

Other actions that have been taken to counteract public health crisis with communicable diseases include improving hospital hygiene practices and policies. To learn more about our actions to prevent public health crisis, please check our actions on Epidemic Response.

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