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Somalia: ICRC acts to curb cholera outbreak in the south

03-04-1997 News Release 97/12

An outbreak of cholera in the southern Somali town of Wanlaweyn resulted in more than 430 deaths between 15 February and 17 March, according to ICRC medical staff.  To date, almost 2,000 cases of the disease have been reported in the area, about 90 km west of the capital Mogadishu. Samples tested in Nairobi have confirmed the presence of cholera.

ICRC health delegates, who carried out an initial survey in Wanlaweyn - home to between 10,000 and 13,000 families - said that only one of five wells in the town was working. Following the survey, the ICRC donated medical supplies, such as oral rehydration solutions and antibiotics, and arranged for eight local people to undergo immediate training in preventive and curative care with Somali Red Crescent personnel in Mogadishu.

Local people in Wanlaweyn have now set up an isolation camp for cholera patients. Joint ICRC/Somali Red Crescent teams have been working with the community to improve conditions in the camp, for which the ICRC provided tents and other items. ICRC water engineers have also installed a 15,000-litre water tank and overseen the construction of sanitary facilities

Several hundred cases of cholera, which commonly occurs in Somalia between the end of January and early April, have likewise been reported in Mogadishu. There, too, the ICRC and its partner on the ground, the Somali Red Crescent, are providing preventive and curative care, along with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.