“With almost 17,000 cases reported in the latest nationwide cholera outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must rethink its preparedness strategy to curb future outbreaks, health experts told IRIN,” the news service reports. “According to Kossi Ayigan of the WHO, the health cluster coordinator, the emergency response phase of the current cholera outbreak is drawing to a close and should be followed by firm action on proper sanitation and provision of safe drinking water by the government and its development partners,” according to IRIN.
The WHO on Friday “said the number of cholera cases in Haiti is expected to reach 500,000 by the end of the year” if current trends continue, Agence France-Presse reports. As of October, the agency estimated 470,000 cases of the disease and 6,600 cholera deaths had occurred since the outbreak began in 2010, the news service notes. “The number of new cholera cases in Haiti halved in August, but the rainy season is once again worsening the situation, the WHO warned,” AFP writes (10/22).
Water Shortages Lead To Cholera Threat In Harare, Government Says Measures In Place To Contain Outbreak
Radio VOP reports on water shortages in the high-density suburbs of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, writing that some “have gone for a week without water raising fears of a cholera outbreak and bringing back fresh memories of the 4,000 people across the country killed in a cholera disaster in 2008” (10/21). But Health and Child Welfare Ministry officials in Zimbabwe “say the government has successfully curbed over 1,000 cases of cholera recorded during the first half of this year, while indicating that measures have been put in place to contain another outbreak of the disease,” the Zimbabwean reports.
Working in conjunction with the Haitian Ministry of Health and the Haitian aid group GHESKIO, Boston-based Partners In Health (PIH) will begin an immunization campaign in January aimed at providing two doses of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol “to 100,000 Haitians living in two vulnerable communities: a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, where potable water and latrines are luxuries, and to an isolated rural village in the lower Artibonite Valley region,” the Miami Herald reports.
Paul Farmer, a founder of Partners in Health (PIH) and U.N. deputy special envoy to Haiti, in an interview with the Associated Press/Washington Post “said cholera has sickened more than 450,000 people in a nation of 10 million, or nearly five percent of the population, and killed more than 6,000,” giving the Caribbean nation “the highest rate of cholera in the world a mere year after the disease first arrived” (10/18).
“More than 85,000 cases of cholera in West and Central Africa are making this one of the region’s most severe epidemics in recent memory,” VOA News reports. “Grant Leaity, UNICEF’s chief of emergency operations for West and Central Africa, says the epidemic is due, in part, to a greater movement of people across the region,” VOA writes, noting, “Three simultaneous cross-border outbreaks are affecting people in two dozen countries along the coast from Guinea, and in the Lake Chad basin to the West Congo basin and around Lake Tanganyika.”
“Cholera cases have risen in Haiti, but the number dying from the disease is down, according to researchers from the [CDC],” CNN’s health blog â€œThe Chartâ€ reports. Robert Tauxe, researcher and deputy director at CDC said, “The number of deaths was initially way too high. But within a few weeks of the outbreak, we trained teams to treat the disease and increased access to supplies,” according to the blog. The new CDC report “lay[s] out the lessons learned since cholera emerged in Haiti and what needs to be done to sustain the progress that has been made to treat the disease and prevent deaths,” the blog notes, adding, “The most beneficial lessons may seem quite simple” and include training more health workers, educating citizens and improving sanitation systems (Dellorto, 10/13).
Cholera Outbreak In West, Central Africa 'One Of The Biggest Epidemics' In Region's History, Says UNICEF
According to UNICEF, a cholera outbreak in West and Central Africa “has claimed almost 2,500 lives â€¦ [w]ith more than 85,000 cases of cholera reported this year in 10 countries from Mali to Congo,” the Associated Press/CBS News reports (Freeman, 10/11). “‘The size and the scale of the outbreaks mean the region is facing one of the biggest epidemics in its history,’ UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told a news briefing in Geneva” on Tuesday, according to Reuters (Nebehay, 10/11). Mercado added that “above-average rainfall predicted for the coming weeks increases the likelihood that cholera will continue to spread,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes (10/11).
Spain’s Queen Sofia spent two days in Haiti “touring reconstruction projects that the Spanish government and her own foundation hope will improve housing, education, sanitation and health in Haiti,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. Her tour included a water sanitation plant that Haitian president Michel Martelly called “a key way for us to solve the cholera” epidempic, which “has killed more than 6,200 people and sickened almost 440,000 others since it surfaced last year, according to Haitian health officials,” AP writes (10/7). “[C]holera is still rife in Haiti and far from under control,” Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reports, adding, “Since the first cases were confirmed in October 2010, MSF has treated almost 160,000 patients” and has seen the number of patients admitted jump from 300 to more than 850 in the past month (10/7).
“There has been an increase in the number of cholera cases and deaths in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo where an outbreak has been ongoing since March, say humanitarian agencies,” IRIN reports. “At least 6,910 cases and 384 deaths had been reported as of 3 October, according to a report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), compared with a total of 3,896 cases and some 265 deaths by 20 July 2011,” the news service writes.