Emma Owhonda with Agency Reporter
As emergency and aid workers intensify their efforts to provide first-line assistance to victims of the earthquake in Albania, the World Health Organisation, WHO, says medical facilities in the affected areas are coping.
Official reports say that at least 25 people have been killed and over 650 injured, following a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Albania which happened shortly before 04:00 local time on 26 November, 2019.
WHO, in a review of medical needs in the hit areas, said that hundreds of citizens are receiving medical assistance at hospitals in Tirana, Durres, Lezha, Kurbin and Kruja. “All health facilities are reportedly in good shape” the global health watchdog said.
The government of Albania has declared a state of emergency in Durres and Tirana, the areas where the earthquake struck.
Dr. Piroska Östlin, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said the organization is working with health authorities in Durres and Tirana to cushion the health needs. “On behalf of WHO, I would like to extend my condolences to Albania, especially to those who may have lost loved ones, been injured or lost property,” says Dr Piroska Östlin, WHO Regional Director for Europe said. “We have been on the ground from the first moment of this disaster, working with health authorities to save lives.”
Staff from WHO have been deployed, and the WHO country team in Albania travelled to Durres to assess health needs with local and national health authorities.
“The Medical Emergencies Coordination Centre is doing tremendous work in responding to the consequences of the earthquake,” commented Dr Raul Gonzalez-Montero, WHO Representative in Albania. “I personally went to visit affected areas and health facilities where health personnel are working around the clock to treat trauma and other injuries, and they are coping well.”
WHO noted that in the aftermath of an earthquake, the priority is to save lives from trauma and injuries from building collapse. Following this phase, it is critical to monitor the potential risk of communicable diseases, particularly in areas affected by overcrowding. There is also a need to address post-traumatic mental disorders and continue the provision of care for chronic conditions. Eventually, recovery and rehabilitation will be in focus.
“WHO is committed to assisting the country in identifying immediate needs and ensuring a swift response. The Organization stands ready to provide support to the people and Government of Albania during and after this emergency”, a statement on Thursday said.