PO Box 61950 Nairobi

Tel: 254-2- 441225

Fax: 254-2- 442438

E-mail: sacb.so@undp.org

Somalia Aid Coordination Body

Health & Nutrition Sectoral Committee

Cholera Task Force

______________________________________________________________________________

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

CHOLERA IN SOMALIA - AID AGENCIES WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES TO CONTROL OUTBREAKS AND PREVENT FURTHER DEATHS

 

 

8th  April 2002 – Members of the Somali Aid Coordination Body (SACB) – which includes UN agencies, NGOs, and donors – are working with local health authorities to prevent widespread illness and death in Somalia related to the annual cholera “season”.

 

In their fight to control cholera outbreaks at community level, which are endemic in Somalia, the SACB members have already

 

§         Implemented regional cholera preparedness and control plans;

§         Increased health surveillance, including targeted and random laboratory testing of possible cholera cases in regularly affected areas;

§         Pre-positioned medical stocks;

§         Provided refresher training to local and international medical staff and are

§         Continuing sanitation control activities, particularly chlorination of public wells.

 

Longer-term control measures also in place include:

 

§         Rehabilitation of safe water sources (such as boreholes and wells);

§         Construction of urban water systems where possible;

§         Continuing public information campaigns to improve health and hygiene.

 

Cholera, normally surges from December through May in any given year.  Outbreaks tend to recede with the arrival of Somalia’s annual long rainy season.

 

This year the onset of the cholera season did not take place until March with relatively few cases of cholera reported from Mogadishu (36 cases & 2 deaths), Middle Juba (56 cases & 9 deaths) and Lower Shabelle (25 cases & 5 deaths). SACB partners responded with prompt assessment and medical supplies to support local cholera control and treatment activities, reducing further transmission of the disease.

 

Over 70 percent of all cholera cases in Somalia each year are reported from the capital, Mogadishu.  In Mogadishu, WHO, UNICEF, Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) form a regional cholera task force working with the local Mogadishu authorities. Chlorination activities are ongoing in the capital and these agencies have also established cholera treatment centres and dispensing facilities for Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in the north and south of  the city.  Further, both MSF and ACF have committed to provide on-the-job training in cholera treatment to aid agencies with less experience.

 

For other parts of Somalia, regional preparedness plans were presented at the annual SACB Cholera Workshop on 18 October 2001 and these are being carried out at community level.

 

Across the country, UNICEF provides medical kits, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), and chlorine to purify water sources. Cholera prevention messages have been provided by UNICEF for use by the media and in health and education facilities across Somalia as well as training of social mobilizers. The WHO provides laboratory support, intravenous solution and supports on-site training in case management and cholera control, as well as operational research on cholera.  In addition, UNICEF and WHO are sending public health and water sanitation teams to help coordinate the response to cholera along with the District Polio Officers (DPOs), who are field based, where outbreaks are likely to occur.

 

It is hoped that local communities and Somali authorities will support these efforts – particularly with accurate reporting of numbers of cholera cases and deaths – an area riddled with confusion due to mis-reporting by some local authorities and press in the past.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Dr. Imanol Berakoetxea, Health Coordinator 

Somali Aid Coordination Body, Health Committee

Tel: (254 2) 441225

 

Farah Dar

World Health Organization, Somalia Office

Tel: (254 2) 623197 or 623198 or 623199

 

Julia Spry-Leverton or Patrick Mwangi

UNICEF Support Center, Communications Section

Tel: (254 2) 623958, or 623862 or 623959

 

Sonya Laurence Green, Information Officer

UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator’s Office for Somalia

Tel: (254 2) 448434, Fax: (254 2) 448439

 

Maura Barry

Head of SACB Secretariat

Tel:  (254 2) 448434, Fax:  (254 2) 442438