Thursday, April 18, 2024
NewsInfectious diseases fester in wake of drought, war: UN report

Infectious diseases fester in wake of drought, war: UN report

66 woredas hit by measles outbreak

A UN agency signals a worrying uptick in the spread of infectious diseases as “successive shocks” expose thousands of people across the country to measles, cholera, and malaria.

A report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) details that malnutrition and drought has “led to weakened immunity and large population displacement,” leaving millions vulnerable to disease.

No less than 66 woredas have recorded measles cases in recent months, while at least 74 fresh cases have been observed in the last couple of weeks. Fifty woredas have reported over 10,000 cases of cholera in 2024, according to UNOCHA.

A report from the Ministry of Health reveals more than 36,000 cholera cases and over 500 deaths in the last year and a half.

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The UN agency says that substandard living conditions in IDP shelters combined with a lack of access to social services is “causing multiple health outbreaks around the country” despite efforts to tackle the problem by the government and other stakeholders.

UNOCHA released its Humanitarian Snapshot report this week, depicting the status of humanitarian access, drought, and market conditions and commodity prices.

Nearly seven million people live in drought-affected areas, and drought was the cause of displacement for close to 74,000 IDPs until January 2024, according to the report. It details that six regions – Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, Somali, and Southern – are contending with drought brought on by the global climate phenomenon El Nino. 

Conflict in northern Ethiopia was also responsible for the failure of some harvests and food assistance from humanitarian agencies was paused as a result of complications that arose following the two-year war. These conditions “triggered an alarming increase in food insecurity and malnutrition,” according to UNOCHA.

Accessing areas that need humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia has become a challenging endeavor for humanitarian organizations, according to the report. 

There were at least 93 incidents, including kidnapping, robbery, and acts of violence, against humanitarian workers in 2023, according to the report.

“So far in 2024, five aid workers have been killed in three regions,” it reads.

The report also shed light on drastic price hikes for commodities such as maize and teff.

“Affordability of essential food items is plummeting, jeopardizing food security and raising concerns about malnutrition, particularly among vulnerable populations,” the report reads. 

Teff doubled in price over the course of 2023. This “highlighted the severe consequences of the ongoing hostilities and violence in Amhara and Oromia regions and their spillover effects on agricultural productivity in the two largest regions,” reads the report.

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