Monday, April 25, 2011

Cameroon:Aid plea to fight cholera outbreak

[UKPA] -A cholera outbreak in west Africa could claim hundreds of lives a day without urgent aid to prevent the spread of the disease, a charity has warned.

More than 3,000 people have been infected and around 150 people are known to have have died in an outbreak of the waterborne bacterial disease in Cameroon since it took hold in the centre and south west of the country in March.

The outbreak is steadily gaining pace, with the worst affected district of Mfoundi reporting 500 new cases and 46 deaths in the last week. The capital of Yaounde has seen more than 1,500 cases.

Baro Famari, country director for charity Plan International, said without government aid the outbreak could spread rapidly and, in a scenario similar to that in Haiti in 2010, claim up to 300 lives a day.

Government forecasts say it will take four to six months to bring the disease under control and the outbreak could be spread to neighbouring countries by the movement of infected people, he warned.

"It might get out of control if no action is taken," he said. "We need more support. We don't have enough public toilets, access to clean water is limited and people don't see the link between hygiene and disease spreading."

The disease is spread through water infected with human waste and can kill within six hours. Children under four are most at risk.

If untreated, mortality rates can be up to 60%.

An outbreak in northern Cameroon last year killed 600 people.

Plan International is spending £120,000 disinfecting latrines and water pumps, providing medical aid and educating locals. Aid workers from Unicef and the World Health Organisation are also in the country.

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