10 March 2011, Zarzis, Tunisia -- Six tons of WHO medical supplies arrived today to Djerba, Tunisia, in response to medical needs caused by civil unrest in Libya. The material, consisting of essential medicines and basic medical equipment covering the treatment of 50 000 people over 3 months, will be stored at a local hospital, the major catchment point for the border.
'These supplies will allow us to cope with the possible increase in medical needs of people crossing the border' said Dr. Zouhair Fekih of the Tunisian Ministry of Public Health. If access is established, the equipment could also be used inside Libya.
Dr. Fekih is coordinating health activities at the border, where camps were established to facilitate the transit of people fleeing Libya. According to IOM, since the crisis began, over 137 000 people left Libya for Tunisia.
Although the repatriation efforts have intensified in recent days, an estimated 15 000 people are still stuck at the border needing assistance. Approximately 3000 people continue to enter every day.
Tunisian health authorities and various national and international partners are providing basic and secondary-level health services, including psycho-social support to stranded people.
'With the increase in population, we are seeing a subsequent increase in cases of influenza -like illnesses, respiratory infections and diarrhoea. However no serious threat of epidemic at this time has been identified' adds Dr. Fekih
In coordination with WHO, the Epidemiological Unit of Tunisian Health Ministry has put in place an early alert and response system. This system supports the detection and response to epidemics, monitors the needs for specialized care and the follow-up of hospitalized patients.
In addition, the Tunisian MoPH, with the support of WHO, is setting up a system for monitoring medical stocks including international donations.
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