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Ethiopia: ICRC supports health facilities contending with a diarrhoea epidemic

28-02-2007 News Release 07/04

An epidemic of acute watery diarrhoea broke out in several parts of Ethiopia in June 2006. Since the end of January 2007, 1,150 cases, leading to about 80 deaths, have been recorded north-east of Addis Ababa in the Afar region.

The ICRC has so far dealt with 250 cases in Debel, where it opened a treatment centre in order to help the Federal Ministry of Health and the local authorities to curb the epidemic in the area. The centre, which has showers and latrines, was handed over to the local authorities on 9 February.

" The ICRC has supplied the centre with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, medical material and drinking water " , explains Dr Pierre Hofer, ICRC health coordinator. " Medical personnel have been on duty at the centre round the clock every day for two weeks. They have treated the sick and monitored the course of the epidemic in the area. They have also conducted basic hygiene awareness sessions in several communities " .

The ICRC has been making regular deliveries of water to six other treatment centres in the districts of Boromodaitu and Gewane. " We have equipped the centres with emergency water storage and distribution facilities in order to guarantee basic hygiene " , says Stefan Spang, ICRC water and habitat coordinator. " We have also supplied them with hand sprayers for surface disinfection, chlorine, jerrycans and soap " .

Last week, the ICRC provided the sub-districts of Tutle and Burka with over 50 sand filters and it will go on to assist the remaining sub-districts in the area, which it was unable to reach earlier owing to local rivalries.

The ICRC has been present in Ethiopia since 1977, where it has been delivering aid and carrying out humanitarian activities in accordance with its mandate under international humanitarian law.

For further information, please contact:
  Patrick Mégevand, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel +251 91 148 09 21
  Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 79 217 32 17