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Friday 25th May 2018

Cholera death fears in Somalia

30th April 2007

Healthcare workers in Somalia have warned that displaced person camps around the capital are now seeing an outbreak of cholera and watery diarrhoea to add to already grim conditions there.


Medical sources said overcrowding and lack of proper sanitation in the camps, now home to hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by heavy fighting, had taken their toll.

Hawa Abdi, a doctor sheltering thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP) in her clinic compound 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) to the south of Mogadishu, said her camp had seen 1,111 cases of cholera. Most patients were being cared for under trees, she added.

However, only 15 deaths had occurred from cholera since the outbreak began in March, she said.

But she warned the disease would continue to spread, and the mortality rate rise, if conditions did not improve soon. The IDP camps lacked any proper sanitation facilities, or access to clean water, she said, adding that her compound was working day and night to contain the outbreak, but was running out of supplies.

She appealed for donations of food, clean water, shelter materials and medicines.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated more than 17,000 cholera/acute watery diarrhoea cases and 600 deaths in central and southern Somalia since the beginning of the year.

They had been largely concentrated around the capital, Mogadishu, and the Lower Shabelle region, home to most IDPs, the agency said.

"With continuing displacement and the onset of the Gu [long] rains, the number of cases is expected to continue to rise," OCHA warned.

An estimated 365,000 people fled intense fighting in Mogadishu between Feb. 1 and April 27, representing around a third of the country's population.

The Paris-based medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has warned of a humanitarian crisis as people flee fighting between Ethiopian-backed troops and Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu.

An MSF cholera treatment centre had seen just over 1,200 patients, which the aid group said was the tip of the iceberg.

Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria often found in dirty water. It causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, putting those infected at risk from dehydration. It has a mortality rate of around 1.5%.


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