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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 … [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 Tours Haiti Reconstruction Projects Amid Ongoing Cholera Epidemic

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).

Britain To Pledge $31M Over Four Years To Carter Center Campaign To Eradicate Guinea Worm

“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).

Address Water And Sanitation In Urban Slums To Curb Spread Of Diarrheal Disease

A lack of water and poor sanitation, a result of rapid urbanization being experienced in big cities and small towns throughout the developing world, urgently need tackling in order to curb the resulting spread of diarrheal disease “in what the U.N. terms ‘informal settlements’ — slums, as they are more commonly known,” Timeyin Uwejamomere, senior policy analyst for urban water and sanitation services at WaterAid, writes in this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”

Pakistan Facing Dengue Outbreak, Humanitarian Aid Shortages For Flood Victims

“More than 12,000 have been infected and 125 people have died over the past two months in Pakistan after coming down with dengue fever, a health department spokesman said Friday,” CNN reports (Habib, 10/1). Citing the same numbers, WHO spokesperson Tarek Jasarevic said the agency is providing support for “case management, community mobilization, vector control and public awareness campaigns,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “Last year, 11,024 confirmed cases of dengue fever and 40 deaths were reported in Pakistan, but this year the number of cases has climbed to 12,466,” the news service writes (9/30).

India Launches Month-Long Campaign To Promote Awareness Of Public Hygiene

India’s minister of development is promoting a campaign on public hygiene, after a UNICEF report found “that India accounts for 58 percent of the world’s population practicing open defecation,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Jairam Ramesh says the revelation is a source of national shame and a ‘sad commentary’ on society’s failure to address the issue through education and better sanitation,” the AP writes. According to the AP, the Indian government “says it spends $350 million a year to build rural toilets, but some 638 million still rely on fields or quiet corners” (10/2). The public awareness campaign is expected to last one month, according to Xinhua (10/2).

Central African Republic Declares New Cholera Outbreak

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).

GlobalPost Examines How Indian City Of Surat Cleaned Up After 1994 Plague Outbreak

GlobalPost reports how, spurred by an outbreak of the pneumonic plague in 1994, the Indian city of Surat “successfully went from one of the country’s dirtiest cities to one of its cleanest in 18 short months.” The news service writes that “after 54 residents died and some 300,000 fled to escape a possible quarantine, the people who stuck around were willing to get with the program — working to eliminate the tons of garbage and overflowing sewers that had inundated the city with disease-carrying rats.”

Vaccination Must Be Part Of Response To Cholera Outbreak In Haiti

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.

2M Pakistanis Affected By Diseases Related To Widespread Flooding In Southern Region

Two million Pakistanis have become ill from malaria, diarrhea, skin diseases or snake bites “since monsoon rains left the southern region under several feet of water, the country’s disaster authority said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “More than 350 people have been killed and over eight million people have been affected this year by floods that officials say are worse in parts of Sindh province than last year,” the news agency reports.

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