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Cholera Concerns Increase as Children Head Back to School in Cameroon

  • Ricci Shryock

Health officials are concerned that the country's recent cholera outbreak will spread as students return to school in Cameroon.

As children in Cameroon head back to class, health officials are taking steps to stem the worst cholera outbreak in 20 years.

The U.N. Children's Fund Representative in Cameroon, Musu Clemens Hope, said the lack of latrines and clean drinking water at schools in the country's north could worsen the current situation.

"With school opening and without the proper water and sanitation infrastructure in schools, UNICEF sees an increased risk of transferring cholera," Clemens Hope said.

The government, with the support of UNICEF, launched a "My School Without Cholera" campaign that aims to educate children and their families about clean drinking water, hand-washing techniques and other methods that can help prevent the disease.

Clemens Hope added another positive step is the government's announcement that they will dedicate nearly $600,000 to stem the outbreak.

"I am pleased to say that the majority of that money will be utilized to construct latrines and to dig wells in the affected areas," Clemens Hope added. "So these are long-term activities that are going to be started now and accelerated."

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that causes diarrhea and dehydration. It most often occurs in West Africa when rains wash open sewage into streams used for drinking water.

By the beginning of September, there were 4,541 confirmed cases of cholera in the North and Far North regions of Cameroon, and 331 people had died due to the outbreak.