Country: Sri Lanka

Unprecedented dengue outbreak in Sri Lanka; Red Cross scales up response

Kuala Lumpur / Colombo / Geneva, 24 July 2017 — As the number of dengue cases tops 100,000 in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are rapidly scaling up emergency assistance to help contain the country’s worst-ever outbreak of the mosquito-borne viral disease. Dengue patients are streaming into overcrowded hospitals that are stretched beyond capacity and struggling to cope, particularly in the country’s hardest hit Western Province. Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health reports that the number of dengue infections has climbed above 103,00 since the start of 2017, with 296 deaths. The number of cases this year is already nearly double the number of dengue infections recorded in all of 2016, when 55,150 people were diagnosed with the disease. “Dengue is endemic here, but one reason for the dramatic rise in cases is that the virus currently spreading has evolved and people lack the immunity to fight off the new strain,” says Dr Novil Wijesekara, Head of Health at the Sri Lanka Red Cross. Compounding the crisis, recent monsoon rains and floods have left pools of stagnant water and rotting rain-soaked trash—ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes. Ongoing downpours and worsening sanitation conditions raise concerns the disease will continue to spread. Teams of Sri Lanka Red Cross volunteers have been supporting a large-scale government effort to...

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Everyone counts in the fight against dengue

Saumya Sanesha reads a headline in one of the local newspapers which says, “Worst dengue outbreak in Sri Lanka; 298 deaths.” As she heads out the door, she thinks about the importance her day’s assignment and all the people in her community whose lives are at risk.

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Sri Lanka: emergency appeal – floods

Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, supported by the IFRC, is responding to a major flooding disaster that has affected over 650,000 people in 15 districts across the country. Since the onset of the disaster, Red Cross volunteers have been providing assistance including first aid, safe drinking water, and emergency sanitation.

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About the IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the world's largest humanitarian network and is guided by seven Fundamental Principles: Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, universality and unity.