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October 8, 10

NEWS / Chad: UN ramps up efforts to fight severe cholera epidemic

8 October 2010 – Floods in Chad since July have caused one of the country’s worst cholera epidemics in 10 years, with nearly 2,600 cases and 112 deaths reported as of the start of the month, forcing the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners to scale up their activities.

“With three regions affected by the epidemic, including the capital, N’Djamena, and with an average of 50 cases per day, the urgency to act and to expand outreach is more pressing than ever,” UNICEF Representative Marzio Babille said in a news release issued on Wednesday, calling for stepped-up measures to tackle the spread of the acute intestinal infection caused by contaminated food or water.

“UNICEF supports both the authorities and other organizations, in the treatment of the sick and in public health and preventive activities that will help in containing mortality and stopping the spread of the epidemic.”

The agency is working with the Ministry of Social Action, the Ministry of Health, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and partnering institutions to tackle the epidemic. Cholera kits have been donated to hospitals and NGOs, and technical assistance provided to the Ministry of Health.

A public information campaign is also underway through radio messages, distribution of leaflets and posters, and door-to-door sensitization of the population.

In Goigudum, known as the golden village, as men and women come here to search for the precious metal, UNICEF specialist Jorge Caravotta, reported that many lives have been lost in the past weeks, with patients coming every day to an improvised camp to get a dose of doxicicline, rehydration salts and in some cases emergency intravenous fluid, but insufficient supplies represent a major threat.

“Here no organization has come yet to provide substantial help and four government staff are coping alone with the load of patients,” he said.

Scaling up interventions is a priority as floods and cholera also threaten to affect the return of children to schools as many displaced families have been relocated in school buildings. An estimated 145,000 people have been affected by the floods in 12 regions.




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