Embattled Sahel facing deadly cholera outbreak

July 10, 2012

The conflict in Mali could turn a cholera outbreak that has already killed 60 people in the Sahel this year into a serious regional epidemic, the UN children's agency said Tuesday.

While the semi-arid belt running across Africa, separating Sahara from savannah, is regularly hit by cholera outbreaks, this year's epidemic has concentrated mostly around Mali and Niger, UNICEF said in a statement.

This has been aggravated by the the massive displacement of people fleeing conflict in northern Mali, and further endangers children already suffering acute malnutrition.

"Malnutrition, , and now rains in some parts of the Sahel create the ideal for cholera, which hits young children hardest," said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF acting regional director for West and Central Africa.

Last week, an outbreak in northern Mali left two children dead and 34 other people sick, according to Mali's Ministry of Health.

Since March northern Mali has been occupied by armed groups dominated by Islamists who have enforced sharia law and destroyed ancient cultural treasures.

The statement said that overall in 2012, some 700 people in West and had died from cholera and more than 29,000 cases were reported.

Cases had shot up in the Sahel since mid-June, especially near the Niger River where that country's reported nearly three times as many cholera patients compared to the same period last year.

In Niger some 400,000 children are expected to require life-saving treatment for severe malnutrition this year.

Crops failed across a massive swathe of eight countries after late and erratic rains in 2011, leaving some 23 million people across the Sahel facing hunger, aid agencies have reported.

However funding needs have not been met.

"You can't treat malnutrition and ignore cholera," said Fontaine. "But without more funding soon, we risk undoing a lot of work already done to treat and prevent malnutrition in children."

Explore further: Cholera outbreak in northern Mali kills two

Related Stories

Cholera outbreak in northern Mali kills two

July 5, 2012

Two people have died and 26 others have been infected by an outbreak of cholera in the city of Gao, northern Mali, a region occupied by hardline Islamist groups, officials told AFP on Wednesday.

Diarrhoea outbreak kills seven children in Zimbabwe

October 16, 2011

At least seven children have died from a suspected diarrhoea outbreak which has affected over 6,000 children in two towns in Zimbabwe over the past week, a state newspaper said Sunday.

UN says cholera epidemic in Somalia

August 12, 2011

(AP) -- World Health Organization officials said Friday that famine-hit Somalia faces a cholera epidemic as dirty water and poor sanitation are leading to an increase in outbreaks of the disease.

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.