“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.
Central African Republic Health Minister Jean-Michel Mandaba on Friday declared a new outbreak of cholera in the south of the country had already killed at least 10 people, Agence France-Presse reports. “Mandaba also urged the country’s ‘bilateral and multilateral partners’ to provide financial and technical aid,” the news agency writes. Health officials two months ago warned of a possible outbreak because of cases in nearby countries, according to the news agency (10/1).
Haitian health authorities on Friday said the death toll from cholera has risen to 6,435 since October and that “the number of people infected with cholera almost reached half a million, although the ministry repeated the epidemic was decreasing,” Xinhua reports (9/30). U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos wrapped up a three-day visit to Haiti on Friday, saying the “number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) still in camps in Haiti after their homes were destroyed by last year’s catastrophic earthquake has declined from 1.5 million to 600,000, but hardship in the settlements has not eased,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Limited funding has led to a decline in the number of humanitarian agencies working in key sectors, such as water and sanitation and camp management. Hundreds of latrines are now unusable and overflow, especially during the current rainy season, posing significant health risks, even as efforts to keep the cholera epidemic at bay continue,” the news service writes (9/30).
Though “[c]holera vaccines are not a magic bullet and are not available in adequate numbers” to vaccinate everyone in Haiti, where at least 10 people die each day in an outbreak that began in October 2010, “there are compelling reasons to add vaccinations to the arsenal of public health weapons that has been deployed against cholera in Haiti,” a Washington Post editorial states. Efforts to improve access to clean water, educate the public about cholera transmission and treat those infected are ongoing, “[b]ut those efforts should be supplemented with an ambitious vaccination program starting as soon as practicable,” the editorial writes.
Chad Faces Food Security And Health Challenges, But Opportunity Exists For Improvement, U.N. Official Says
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad Thomas Gurtner “says Chad faces daunting food security and health challenges” but that “peace and growing stability in Chad bodes well for the country’s future,” VOA News reports. He cited high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition among children, “insufficient rainfall” that likely will “limit agricultural production,” rising food prices, the “worst cholera epidemic in years,” and the return home of more than 80,000 Chadian migrants who were working in Libya and sending money home to their families, the news service notes.
A VOA News editorial says U.S. support to Haiti since the early days of an outbreak of cholera, which has affected more than 439,600 people since it was first detected almost a year ago, “remains unfailing.” The editorial continues, “To date, the U.S. government has spent more than $75 million on improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, … has established and operated treatment centers and trained Haitian health care workers in preventing, diagnosing and treating cholera,” among other treatment, prevention and monitoring initiatives. “While some humanitarian groups are gradually reducing their operations in Haiti, the U.S. remains focused on giving the Haitian government the aid and tools needed to prevent and treat this potentially deadly disease,” the editorial says, adding, “The medical and public health response has been effective in limiting deaths associated with the disease” (9/12).