WHO appeals for assistance to Tajikistan affected by cold and emergency crisis

Copenhagen, Dushanbe, 22 February 2008

WHO Regional Office for Europe has called for more international support for Tajikistan as the country faces exceptionally cold weather and energy supply shortages. Medicines, water and food are in short supply for millions of people.

The WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Marc Danzon, visiting the country with a team of experts in emergency aid, said first reports on the consequences of the crisis were alarming: “We are concerned about supplies of essential medicines and basic health care services for women, children and old people in remote areas, who are most affected by the crisis. Poor infrastructure and bad water supplies can quickly lead to infectious disease among those affected.” At the end of a three-day visit, Dr Danzon said Tajikistan needed to receive financial aid to cope with the sudden emergency.

In a meeting with Dr Danzon, the Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmon requested WHO support in tackling urgent health problems. “Together with the President and the Minister of Health, we have discussed the action that has to be taken,” said Dr Danzon. “A lot needs to be done. WHO, together with international partner agencies, is trying to raise money to expand assistance to the health care sector, heavily affected by the crisis. We have launched an appeal for US$ 870 000. This sum needs to be raised in the weeks to come.”

“Our number one objective is getting supplies to the people most affected by the crisis, says Dr Santino Severoni, WHO Representative in Tajikistan. “The first WHO shipment of emergency health kits took place last week. The kits contain basic medical supplies for providing primary health care to 18 000 people for three months.”

Currently, 50% of all health facilities in the four major districts of Tajikistan – Kulyab, Rasht Valley, Kurgan-Tube and Sogd Oblast – report severe power shortages and complete blackouts. Emergency hospital admissions for cold-related conditions are increasing, but the real extent of the situation is still unknown because of a lack of information and limited access to remote areas cut off by snow.

“WHO and donor agencies are trying to secure the delivery of power supply equipment such as generators to hospitals and clinics, says Dr Severoni. “Providing support to vital health care services and reducing the risk of disease outbreaks pose urgent health challenges.”

For more information contact:

Dr Gerald Rockenschaub
Regional Adviser, Disaster Preparedness and Response
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
Tel.: +45 3917 1551. Fax: +45 3917 1818
E-mail: gro@euro.who.int

Dr Santino Severoni
Head of WHO Country Office, Tajikistan
UN House – 2, “Vefa” Business Center
37/1 Bokhtar street
734019 Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Tel.: +992 48 7011479
E-mail: sseveroni.who@tajnet.com


Ms Liuba Negru
Press and Media Relations Officer
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
Tel.: +45 3917 1344. Fax: +45 3917 1880
E-mail: lne@euro.who.int