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WHO Ramps Up Efforts to Stem Cholera Outbreak in Sudan

Blue Nile State , Sudan.

The World Health Organization reports an oral cholera vaccine campaign later this month is only one of a number of actions it will implement to stem a cholera outbreak in Sudan.

Latest reports from Sudan’s Health Ministry put the number of confirmed cholera cases at 215, including eight deaths. The government declared the cholera outbreak in Blue Nile State on September 8, with other cases reported from Sinnar State soon after.

The World Health Organization warns six other states are at risk. WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says past experience shows quick action is needed to contain this deadly disease.

“There were cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhea from August 2016 until March 2018, with more than 36,000 cases, and lessons from this outbreak have been incorporated in the response plan that is currently being put in place by the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO and other partners," Jasarevic said.

WHO notes that previous outbreak had affected 18 states, leading to the deaths of 823 people, 15% of them children under age 5. It says WHO staff is monitoring water quality at the community level and improving infection prevention measures at health facilities.

Jasarevic says WHO, the U.N. children’s fund and partners will launch an oral vaccination campaign in mid-October. He says it will be funded by the GAVI Alliance. Could we explain who this is?

“We aim to vaccinate 1.6 million people in eight localities in the two states which have confirmed cholera cases," Jasarevic said. "Again, those are Blue Nile and Sinnar States. The vaccination will be as in other OCV campaigns for everyone above age of 1 year and will include lactating and pregnant women.”

Jasarevic says cholera vaccines are given in two doses, so a second round will follow at a later date.

Cholera and other diarrheal diseases are a recurring problem in Sudan because of the country’s weak health infrastructure and dilapidated safe water and sewage system. WHO warns these factors heighten the risk of cholera spreading widely unless needed responses are immediately adopted.

WHO says it needs $10 million to $15 million to contain the current outbreak in the coming three to six months.