News Scan for Mar 27, 2015

Funding Syria's health crisis
Measles alert in Florida

WHO pleads for funds to address Syrian health crisis

As the public health crisis in Syria continues to deteriorate, the World Health Organization (WHO) is asking for $124 million to continue its support of health services in the war-torn country, the agency said in a news release today.

The WHO estimates that more than 1.3 million people in Aleppo governorate are in need of health assistance. Aleppo is Syria's largest governorate with about 4 million people, or about a quarter of the nation's population. Last year, the WHO delivered almost 3 million medical treatments to Aleppo, 1.2 million of which reached opposition-controlled and -besieged areas. Only 4 of 11 public hospitals remain operational in the governorate.

With 57% of public hospitals across Syria shuttered or only partially functioning, health facilities remain crowded and are experiencing critical shortages of medical supplies. The number of available health professionals has fallen to about 45% of 2011 levels, and the country's water infrastructure is in shambles.

"As weather temperatures become warmer, there is an increased risk of waterborne diseases. Therefore, improving hygiene conditions and practices is essential to protecting the population," said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO representative in Syria.

In 2014, the WHO supported the delivery of 13.8 million treatments to the area, compared with 6.1 million in 2013. So far in 2015, it has provided health assistance to almost 4.7 million people, the agency said, but it has received virtually no new funds for its humanitarian operations in Syria and neighboring countries.
Mar 27 WHO news release


Florida reports measles case in international travel

The Florida Department of Health (FDH) has confirmed measles in an adult international traveler who attended a conference in Kissimmee at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center Mar 16 and 17, the agency said in a news release yesterday.

The traveler visited several central and southern Florida counties but not any theme parks. He or she spent the majority of time in Osceola County, but also Miami-Dade, Orange, and Sarasota counties while infectious, from Mar 14 through 20. The traveler was hospitalized Mar 20 through 24 and flew home on Mar 25 after recovering.

The FDH provided no other information on the case but urged full immunization in those who haven't had complete vaccination. The agency said it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and organizers of the international conference to notify attendees and other places the traveler visited while contagious. The FDH is also monitoring emergency departments to rapidly identify other possible cases, it said.

In related news, Brunei, Cambodia, and Japan have officially achieved measles elimination, the WHO's Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) said today in a news release. The three countries join Australia, Macao, Mongolia, and South Korea as countries and areas in the WPRO that have successfully eliminated the disease.
Mar 26 FDH news release
Mar 27 WPRO
news release

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