IFRC

Cholera outbreak in West and Central Africa

Published: 2 September 2008 0:00 CET

Noora Kero, IFRC DakarHundreds of Red Cross Volunteers mobilized to contain spread of infection

Hundreds of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers have been called up in Guinea Bissau, Congo and Benin to help people affected by cholera epidemics.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 212,000 Swiss francs (USD 190,000 / EUR 132,000) from its disaster relief emergency fund (DREF) to the three African Red Cross societies to support their activities in delivering assistance to 600,000 beneficiaries.

The situation is most severe in Guinea Bissau, where cholera has claimed the lives of 63 people and where close to 3,000 cases have been reported in nine districts.

Outbreaks

In Benin, more than 350 people are already suffering from cholera. In Congo, recurrent outbreaks have posed a threat since the beginning of the year. The epidemic has now reached the capital Brazzaville, which is at risk of a further spread of the disease.

“As some of the worst affected areas in all three countries are in the capitals, there are fears that if urgent action is not taken, more people will be infected and this could lead to an increase in the number of cases and loss of lives,” says Hans Ebbing, IFRC’s health coordinator at the West and Central Africa zone office.

Disinfection

The Red Cross volunteers have already carried out door-to door activities raising awareness on hygiene measures and educating people on the disinfection and conservation of water and food.

With the financial support from the IFRC, additional volunteers will be trained to organize campaigns aiming at cleaning gutters and water points as well as building latrines and distributing oral rehydration solutions to affected families.

The rainy season in West and Central Africa is expected to continue until November.




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