1999- Cholera in Somalia
12 March 1999
Disease Outbreak Reported
Cholera has occurred seasonally in the country for a number of years and usually starts in late November/early December ending around May. In the first week of December 1998 cholera was reported in Mogadishu (Banadir Region) and since then several regions have reported cases.The other regions currently affected are Bay, Gedo, Lower Juba and Lower Shabelle. A total of 4 457 cases with 166 deaths have been reported since December up to 19 February.
The epidemic is occurring in communities already weakened by severe shortage of food and in areas where only polluted water is available as wells have dried up. Supplies for treatment have been made available by WHO to UNICEF. The UN agencies, NGOs and the local health authorities are all collaborating in dealing with the epidemic. As well as clinical case management, efforts have also been directed at preventive measures such as chlorination of public water sources and health education on personal hygiene.
At present, tests for cholera can be conducted in four laboratories (Merka in Lower Shabelle Region, Mogadishu in Banadir Region, Bosasso in Bari Region and Hargeisa in Galbeed Region). All these laboratories are staffed by nationals trained by WHO.
As it is difficult to predict how long this epidemic will last or how much it will spread. The cholera supplies that have been made available may be exhausted and there may well be a need for more supplies, and consequently for the support of the international community.