DR Congo cholera cases top 1,500, 35 dead: UN

A cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has infected 1,500 people and caused 35 deaths in less than two months, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

The majority of the cases have been registered in the southern province of Katanga.

"Fifteen health zones have reported more than 1,520 cases, including 35 deaths, during the first seven weeks of this year," Sylvestre Ntumba, spokesman for the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a press conference.

If the trend continues, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 2015 could see outbreak levels approach those of 2013 when 843 people died of cholera in Katanga, Ntumba said.

The number of cases climbed from 7,000 in 2012 to more than 9,000 in 2014, peaking in 2013 with 14,000 cases, he said, adding that Katanga province alone had recorded half of all country-wide cases.

According to Ntumba, DR Congo has had a tough time tackling the epidemic because of limited access to safe water and sanitation facilities, poor hygiene, and a weak health system with poorly-trained caregivers.

In Katanga, less than 35 percent of households have access to safe drinking water and only five percent use proper toilets, he said.

© 2015 AFP

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