News / Africa

Somalia Faces Cholera Epidemic

Mothers sit with their children in a compound for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Somali border town of Dhobley on August 11, 2011
Mothers sit with their children in a compound for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Somali border town of Dhobley on August 11, 2011

World Health Organization officials say Somalia is facing "the huge threat" of a cholera epidemic, and that efforts to contain and control the disease must be intensified.  Health officials say overcrowding, bad sanitary conditions and population movements risk spreading the disease rapidly in the famine-stricken country.  

The World Health Organization reports a sharp rise in the number of cholera cases in Somalia this year.  It says 60 percent of 30 randomly collected samples of acute watery diarrhea taken from more than 4,200 people in the capital Mogadishu, tested positive for cholera.

WHO public health adviser Michel Yao tells VOA all signs indicate the presence of a cholera epidemic.

“In the cholera context, even when one case is confirmed, we can say that there is an epidemic.  Now, in Somalia, there has been a kind of regular recurrence of cases of cholera since several years,” he said.  

He notes the number of cholera cases is going up at an alarming rate, especially among internally displaced people.  Dr. Yao says IDPs account for 39 percent of the positive cases; the other cholera victims were residents of Mogadishu.  

The World Health Organization says cholera outbreaks are fueled by the many informal settlements springing up in Somalia, made up of people who left their homes in search of food and other assistance.

Makeshift shelters, poor water and sanitation increases the risk of the spread of cholera, and the WHO says the high number of malnourished children weakened by famine are much more susceptible to waterborne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea.

Dr. Yao tells VOA the cholera situation is very worrisome in Somalia.  In some places, he says, three times as many cases are being reported compared to the same period last year.

“So … this is what we fear as the World Health Organization, that the disease can spread within the most vulnerable population in which we have malnourished children, we have displaced population without proper water and sanitation," he said. "What we are saying is that the numbers are increasing, and we have an increased trend in … acute watery diarrhea and cholera.  And so this is a huge threat and, what we say, a huge threat of epidemic around targeting the affected population in drought-affected areas in Somalia.”

WHO says aid agencies must scale up their efforts to contain cholera and prevent it from spreading, promptly treating the disease, providing safe water, proper sanitation and health education.

WHO has sent 19 diarrheal disease kits to various places in Somalia.  Each kit can treat 100 severe or 400 mild cases.  And several other U.N. agencies have pre-positioned supplies to respond to the needs.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid