News / Africa

    Rains Worsen West Africa Cholera Epidemic

    A cholera patient in bed at the Don Bosco center in Goma, Congo, July 2011 (file photo).
    A cholera patient in bed at the Don Bosco center in Goma, Congo, July 2011 (file photo).
    Anne Look

    International aid workers say West and Central Africa are in the grips of a regional cholera epidemic that has been aggravated by heavy rains and flooding.

    According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, nearly 40,000 cases of cholera have been reported in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria this year. The U.N. says the disease has killed nearly 1,200 people in those countries surrounding the Lake Chad Basin.

    Chad and Cameroon are among the hardest hit. In both countries, the current actually epidemic began last year and recently flared up with the onset of another rainy season.

    Cameroon has reported more than 14,000 cases this year across all of the country's major regions.

    Moustapha Diallo, Regional spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross, says the reasons for the epidemic in Cameroon are similar to those around the region.

    "The population does not have access to clean drinking water or adequate sanitation facilities," he said. "Villagers do not build latrines but prefer to go in nature [and] rains then wash up solid waste and spread the disease."

    Cholera, a highly contagious diarrheal disease that causes severe dehydration and can lead to death if not treated quickly, is transmitted by ingesting food or water contaminated by bacteria.

    Cross-border transmission

    Relief workers blame cross-border transmission for persistent outbreaks in the Lake Chad Basin, which serves as a bustling trading center for farmers, fishermen and merchants.

    "Fishing around Lake Chad has been a problem because people move across borders," said Lillian Okwirry, chief of the Water, Environment and Sanitation division for the U.N. Children's Fund in Chad. "You go to a funeral on the other side and you are bringing back the cholera."

    Okwirry says free treatment clinics in Chad attract infected Cameroonians who lack similar services at home, exacerbating the problem.

    "People come to this side to be treated and that in itself is a mode of transmission," she said.

    Although the problem is regional in scope, Okwirry says countries comprising the Lake Chad Basin typically do not coordinate public health strategies, and that outbreaks often happen in far-flung villages where medical care is limited.

    Chad has reported more than 11,000 cases of cholera this year, more than two-thirds of them since the rains began in June.

    A looming crisis?

    As the rainy season peaks in September and October, Red Cross officials warn if rapid action is not taken caseloads in Chad could double to as many as 25,000 and possibly spread to refugee camps along the Sudanese border.

    Nigeria has reported more than 13,000 cases of cholera this year where cases were seen in 23 of the country's 36 states. Niger and Mali have also each reported approximately 1,000 cases this year.

    Further south, the World Health Organization says cholera has spread in the Democratic Republic of Congo along the Congo River, causing more than 5,000 cases since March.

    Cholera is treatable and preventable, and the WHO says a death rate of higher than one percent indicates problems in the health system.  Affected countries in the Lake Chad Basin, such as Cameroon and Chad, are reporting death rates of more than 3 percent.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora