Washing away cholera in Chad

Published: 28 October 2011 8:00 CET

By Mahamat Brahimrahama in N’Djamena

Cholera, the disease of dirty hands, was put in the spotlight recently on Global Handwashing Day which takes place on October 15 of each year. The disease affects 37 of Chad’s 61 districts and claims thousands of lives; this is something the Red Cross of Chad wants to stop.

The organization has been working in the region of Mayo Kebbi East where towns have been severely hit by the outbreak, registering hundreds of cases and several deaths. A Basic Health Care Unit was set up in this region to provide rapid care and to stop the cholera from spreading to the refugee camps in the area. A second team is working in Bongor, Kelo, Gounou Gaya and Lai to support local health centers and train volunteers for mass awareness campaigns.

As fighting cholera depends on individual and collective hygiene, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) celebrated Global Handwashing Day in Kelo at a ceremony with the Secretary General of the Red Cross of Chad, Zam Bongor Barminas. Volunteers and children from the town gathered together to see how washing hands can prevent cholera and other communicable diseases.

Belly Diallo, IFRC representative in Chad said: “This day is an opportunity to inform and make people conscious that washing their hands regularly is a powerful way to fight diseases and epidemics. The cholera will not enter households where the hands are washed and kept clean. If all the Chadian do this, cholera here will just be a bad memory.”

Zam Bongor Barminas agreed. “This celebration has enabled us to show many Chadian households how to wash their hands and explain to them how dirty hands can continue the spread of cholera,” he said.

The National Society, supported by the IFRC, has sent almost one thousand volunteers into communities to spread the word about how to stop the cholera epidemic.