Sierra Leone declares cholera an emergency, 176 dead

August 16, 2012

Sierra Leone's government on Thursday declared a cholera outbreak a national emergency after 176 deaths and 10,800 reported cases since January, health ministry sources said.

"A decision has been taken to declare cholera as a ," a source at the told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The decision followed a cholera situation report which revealed that a total of 176 people have so far died out of 10,800 reported cases recorded between January 1 to August 14 and signs of the disease spreading to various parts of the country."

The decision was announced after a meeting between government and officials from the World Health Organisation and United Nation's children agency UNICEF. Government has also set up a special task force to deal with the epidemic.

According to the health ministry, out of eight of the country's 12 districts which are affected by the outbreak, the western area which includes the capital Freetown has been worst hit with 63 deaths.

Other badly affected districts are Port Loko in the north of the country, where 43 people have died and Moyama in the south where 35 people have died.

Health ministry spokesman Abass Kamara rejected criticism from the public that government was doing little to stem the tide of the outbreak.

"A series of robust resource mobilisation including the setting up of dozens of cholera treatment units in affected areas have been undertaken."

State doctor Harrison Williams said patients came from areas with limited access to proper water drainage and sanitation as the country is at the height of its .

"We are many times overstretched working from mornings to late evenings. The unprecedented rainfall which is dislodging clogged-up gutters and bringing garbage into the streets has added to the filth."

The small west African nation of six million people has one of the worlds worst with only one doctor per 34,744 people, according to United Nations figures.

The water-borne disease has also hit Guinea, neighbouring to the north, leaving 60 people dead in that country since February, and Mali and Niger have also been hit by the outbreak.

Poor water and sanitation systems give rise to the disease, an acute intestinal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food and water which causes acute diarrhoea and vomiting and can kill in hours, according to the .

Related Stories

Cholera kills four, infects 400 in Burundi

August 22, 2011

Cholera has killed at least four people in an outbreak in the past three weeks in western Burundi, where more than 400 people are infected, a health ministry official said Monday.

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.

Cholera outbreak in Guinea worsens

August 9, 2012

An outbreak of cholera in Guinea has killed 60 people since February and is showing no signs of letting up, the country's health ministry said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Viruses thrive in big families, in sickness and in health

August 5, 2015

The BIG LoVE (Utah Better Identification of Germs-Longitudinal Viral Epidemiology) study, led by scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine, finds that each bundle of joy puts the entire household at increased ...

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

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.