For the last four months Paraguay has been affected by heavy rains that have produced high tides in at least eight departments, and in the capital, Asuncion, due to the overflowing of the Parana and Paraguay rivers, among others. The floods have been slow-onset; therefore, it has been possible to evacuate populations on time. However, more than 30,000 families (about 160,000 people) have been affected, and many of them have been evacuated to the 91 shelters established, or are staying with relatives or friends.
NEW! PAHO/WHO receives U.N. emergency funds to restore water and sanitation in flooded areas of Paraguay
Difficulties in providing emergency assistance stem from access problems to the affected areas, the need to provide shelter, food and welfare to the population, and access to clean water. This last issue is important because it influences sustainability of appropriate basic sanitation and hygiene conditions; these tend to worsen due to overcrowding in shelters or family homes. Those places don't usually meet all conditions necessary to shelter a large number of people.
In terms of health, the main needs are related to the rehabilitation of services affected by the floods, once the water levels come down. In addition, immediate access to health services must be guaranteed to people in shelters and family homes, continuity of health care programs should be ensured, and surveillance of risk factors for communicable diseases and accidents should be maintained. Intersectoral coordination must continue to ensure that international standards are followed in emergency response and health provided to girls, boys, adolescents and older people, and in general, to all the population. The message of health, hygiene and self care promotion should continue being promoted among the population.
The country has, so far, not requested international assistance to deal with the floods. PAHO, through it's Country Office, maintains close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, and is ready to assist, as needs develop.