Date Published: 4 April 2007

Urgent appeal for funds for tsunami hit Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

Health News from around the world.

UNICEF has appealed for urgent funding to respond to the people affected by the devastating tsunami that swept through coastal villages on the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea last Monday. Of the estimated 50,000 people in the region impacted by the disaster 30,000 of them are children, 15,000 of them are under the age of five.

These children are highly vulnerable to hunger, disease and the disruption of their normal lives and protective social systems, and require urgent life-saving assistance to survive.

UNICEF is appealing is for US $500,000 to meet the most urgent needs of women and children in the region.

UNICEF began responding within hours of the disaster, drawing on pre-positioned emergency medical supplies for up to 10,000 people and internal financial reserves. Along with its partners, UNICEF is working closely with the Government of the Solomon Islands to respond swiftly and effectively to the crisis.

Initial response has included distribution of medical kits including emergency drugs; immunisation against measles for children aged 6 months to 4 years; Vitamin A supplementation; support for medical teams; ensuring that women and children have access to health services.

With thousands crowded into temporary shelters and living quarters, ensuring that the water and sanitation structures are re-established as quickly as possible is critical.

UNICEF is working to assess the damage to water and sanitation infrastructures. Water purification tablets, jerry cans and water tanks are needed. The children's agency must also provide hygiene materials, including soap, buckets and educational materials containing hygiene messages in local languages and establishing latrines and water points as necessary.

Malaria is endemic to the area, and the standing water will attract mosquitoes, so it will be vital to ensure that displaced families have access to insecticide-treated nets and malaria prophylaxis.

Children need to return to school as quickly as possible in order to ensure that their days are structured and that they are in a protective environment while their caregivers deal with the piecing their lives back together. UNICEF will procure school-in-a-box kits with basic educational materials and providing tents for temporary classrooms as well as using its experience to help the government re establish schools and learning spaces.

Children who are confused and frightened will also need establishment of 'child-friendly' spaces where children can feel safe, play and received psychological support. UNICEF will also distribute recreation kits that contain toys and games.

Source(s): UNICEF Press Release

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