1998 - Cholera in Somalia
16 October 1998
Disease Outbreak Reported
The cholera season in Somalia is now approaching. It is expected to be particularly deadly in Mogadishu this year, owing to the following factors:
- The World Food Programme/Food and Agriculture Organization (WFP/FAO) have estimated the structural food deficit to be quite large. It is expected to result in the additional movement of around 200,000 internally displaced people from Bay and other regions to Mogadishu. These people will be malnourished and obliged to live on the outskirts of Mogadishu without access to safe water.
- No international NGO is currently present in Mogadishu. Although Somali professionals have been adequately trained in cholera prevention and treatment, NGO financial support to the staff of cholera treatment centres in the past has greatly contributed to their success in combating the disease. This year, it appears very unlikely that any donor will financially support the staff of these centres.
- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has notified termination to many staff in Mogadishu. As a result, their support to chlorination activities in the city is expected to be significantly reduced. However, UNICEF will step up the use of mass media for hygiene awareness and safe water campaigns.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has withdrawn from the Mogadishu area. Its past support to cholera treatment activities in southern Mogadishu was instrumental in preventing many deaths, but it will not be available this season.
WHO currently employs a local laboratory technician and two local doctors in Somalia as public health coordinators.
Unless the current security conditions in Mogadishu are improved, the cholera epidemic response this season will be seriously compromised.