“At a press briefing in London on Wednesday, British officials are expected to pledge 20 million pounds ($31 million) over four years to” a campaign led by the Carter Center, the WHO, and the CDC to eradicate guinea worm, a parasitic disease that now exists only in four African countries, by 2015, the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. Former President Jimmy Carter and British officials are urging other donors to come forward with additional funding, the news service writes (10/4). The WHO “reports it is very close to eradicating guinea worm” and that “it needs $350 million to finish the job,” VOA News notes (Schlein, 10/4).
Water and Sanitation
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).
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).
“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).
As the world’s population approaches seven billion, “experts say most of Africa — and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan — will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives,” the Associated Press/San Jose Mercury News reports. In the article, “Associated Press reporters on four continents examin[e] some of most distinctive examples” of how “population challenges vary dramatically around the world” (Crary et al., 10/15).
“During the past 24 hours, cholera has claimed the lives of nearly 200 women and children in famine-stricken Somalia,” a Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Sunday. “More than 800 children suffering from the disease in refugee camps were reportedly transported to medical centers in south Mogadishu,” the news service writes, adding, “As the number of sick is on the rise, doctors are facing a shortage of medicine.” Press TV notes, “According to the United Nations, drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia have increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa to 13.3 million” (10/16).
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).
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.
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.
The WHO on Saturday said hundreds of thousands of flood victims in Thailand are at risk of water-borne diseases and infections, though no major outbreaks have been reported, Agence France-Presse reports. “The spread of communicable diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory illness and conjunctivitis among displaced flood victims in shelters was a key concern, the country’s WHO representative Maureen Birmingham told AFP,” adding, “Flood-affected people also faced an increased risk of skin fungal infections and leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water,” according to the news service (10/23).