BEIRUT: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched a call for funding on 11 November 2022, seeking support to maintain its cholera response in Lebanon.
In October 2022, Lebanon declared its first case of cholera in 30 years. Approximately 3,253 cases and 18 deaths have been recorded as of 11 November 2022. This public health emergency comes at a time when the country is grappling with severe economic crisis that has weakened its public health system, and degraded water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) standards. Worsened WASH standards mean vulnerable communities are increasingly reliant on unsafe water sources, increasing their exposure to water and food borne diseases such as cholera.
Through this appeal, IOM is seeking USD 365,000 to sustain its response through end of March 2023. The required funding will ensure continued essential services including, risk communication and community engagement (RCCE), boost capacity support to public health responders through provision of equipment such as cholera beds, medical supplies, testing kits, medical care for migrants needing hospitalization due to cholera infection; and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support to reduce transmission.
“Whenever there is a communicable disease outbreak, there is no time to waste,” said IOM Migration Health Director Jacqueline Weekers. “IOM, thanks to its extensive experience with public health emergencies, has been able to support the response immediately, and needs urgent additional funding to prevent avoidable loss of life and suffering.”
Since the outbreak, IOM has been part of the Ministry of Public Health’s national taskforce, coordinating the national response. IOM has taken a leading role in channeling response efforts towards migrant communities, such as translating information, education and communication materials into languages commonly spoken by migrants. Furthermore, IOM community health volunteers have been conducting extensive outreach across Lebanon, in migrant and other vulnerable communities, informing on cholera, the symptoms, preventative measures, and how to access medical support. Since the outbreak began, IOM’s RCCE activities have reached approximately 15,000 people.
IOM has been a key player in helping countries and communities prepare for and contain infectious disease outbreaks. In 2021 alone, the Organization supported 57 public health emergency response plans across the world, vaccinated over 1 million people in the context of disease outbreaks, and reached over 10 million people with risk communication and community engagement activities.