A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva on Feb 6, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The World Health Organization is appealing for $1.23 million to continue with the interventions to help Somalia overcome the negative consequences of cyclone Gati that hit the country’s Puntland state in November as well as prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

The cyclone destroyed health facilities and safe sanitation systems in the area, leaving thousands of vulnerable people exposed without any shelter and livelihoods, as it hit in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, further affecting communities’ economic recovery.

According to WHO, by the end of December, the storm had killed nine people, over 63,000 livestock, and affected around 183,000 people.

A rapid interagency assessment in the affected areas, indicated that food, water, sanitation and hygiene, emergency shelter and the prevention of waterborne, vector-borne and communicable diseases are the most immediate humanitarian needs of the affected populations.

Stagnant water in some areas also threatens to serve as ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“The situation is already resulting in an increase in malnutrition due to lost livelihoods and assets, and a potential increase in coronavirus and other airborne diseases due to crowded living conditions,” WHO said in a statement on Thursday.

Further to the damage already caused, WHO said there are additional potential risks of more rainfall and flooding, contamination of water and severe malnutrition.

“With the affected people having no access to basic healthcare needs, and limited sanitation, this could result in an increase in diseases such as vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, and waterborne diseases and diarrhea,” WHO said.

To support the affected families and to stop the spread of waterborne and vector-borne diseases, the WHO requires $1.23 million.

The UN agency plans to provide medical supplies for the management of diseases spread by contaminated water; establish a water quality surveillance system in cyclone-affected districts; and support sample collection and analysis for alerts of epidemic-prone diseases reported in affected districts.

The WHO will also support the deployment of two integrated emergency response teams for four weeks for the cyclone response.

As additional support, the organization plans to deploy nine district-based rapid response teams and 300 community health workers, deployed to support coronavirus activities in the cyclone-affected districts.

The WHO will also provide airtime to health facilities in cyclone affected districts to submit timely reports for epidemic-prone diseases reported in the affected districts through the early warning and response network to strengthen surveillance, timely detection and response to alerts.

The UN agency will further reinforce the coordination, supervision and surveillance activities through the existing health system, in cooperation with the health, water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition cluster partners.

Additionally, the WHO will conduct fogging in 9,000 households in Somaliland and Puntland to prevent the spread of malaria and other vector-borne diseases.

The districts affected most by the cyclone include Alula, Benderbayla, Bosasso, Iskushuban and Qandala in Puntland, as well as Erigavo and Laasqoray in Somaliland.