WHO sets up disease surveillance system in Myanmar

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New Delhi, Jun 5 (UNI) A system to detect and report potential disease outbreaks early in Myanmar's cyclone-affected areas has been put into action by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its health cluster partners.

The Early Warning Reporting System (EWARS) has been established to support the Ministry of Health, Myanmar, to provide quick and accurate information on diseases.

The system collects information from health sector partners, verifies rumors of outbreaks and also uses formal reporting methods.

Verifying such information at an early stage allows prompt containment of diseases and prevents outbreaks.

''We are working with the Myanmar government to further strengthen the existing health system including disease surveillance. The WHO is advocating a community-based approach and the use of appropriate technologies to help the survivors,'' said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

The EWARS was particularly significant as water-borne and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue could pose a health challenge during the monsoons.

Salty water on land makes an ideal breeding site for Anopheles Sundaicus, the malaria vectors in the coastal areas, and early rains favour breeding of other malaria vectors. Displaced populations without the support of normal health services were more susceptible to such diseases.

''We are training international and national medical teams on malaria and dengue control. Insecticide-treated bednets, malaria drugs for 120,000 cases, fogging machines, 2000 litres of insecticides and five tonnes of larvicides have been supplied by the WHO and its health partners,'' said Dr Poonam Singh, WHO's Deputy Regional Director for South-East Asia, on her return from Myanmar.

''Access to clean water and sanitation is key to improving the health situation on the ground,'' she added.

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