WHO Director-General Travels to Indonesia and Sri Lanka to Attend Leaders' Meeting, Tours Stricken Areas

JAKARTA, Indonesia and GENEVA The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Lee Jong-wook, has arrived in Jakarta at the start of a five-day visit to Indonesia and Sri Lanka. During the visit, Lee will take part in the Special ASEAN Leaders' meeting on the Aftermath of the Tsunami, to be held in Jakarta on Thursday.


Lee, together with the executive director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, will travel on Wednesday to some of the worst hit areas around Banda Aceh in northern Sumatra to meet some of the victims of the tsunami and to assess the most urgent health needs.  He will also be meeting with and traveling with the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel.


After leaving Indonesia late on Thursday, Lee will travel to Sri Lanka

to review progress in the relief effort and to offer further support to the

country and to the communities which have been most seriously affected by the



Since the tsunami struck, WHO has been working together with the core

group of countries helping to provide humanitarian support. WHO has mobilized

teams of experts to work with countries to assess the most urgent health needs

and to ensure that they are met as rapidly as possible.


The most urgent health need now is to prevent outbreaks of infectious

disease, and particularly of waterborne diseases such as diarrheal diseases,

dysentery and typhoid.  It is clear that providing clean water to as many as

possible of the affected communities is now the most pressing health priority.


    WHO's assistance is focused in five key areas:


    -- Disease surveillance and response: tracking patterns of life

       threatening diseases and establishing an early warning system;


    -- Coordinated action with the health system and other health actors

       locally, nationally and internationally;


    -- Providing public health guidance on responding to disease outbreaks,

       water quality, sanitation, chronic disease management and mental



    -- Ensuring access to essential health care together with all partners and

       the local health system;


    -- Helping to coordinate medical supplies to ensure that supply chains

       work well and that people get the medicines they need when and where

       they need them.


 Source: World Health Organization