Wednesday 22 November 2017

Uganda on alert as cholera kills over 500 in DRC

Uganda on alert as cholera kills over 500 in DRC
(New Vision 09/11/17)
Uganda on alert as cholera kills over 500 in DRC

By Sunday, the epidemic had claimed at least 530 people and spread to 20 of Congo’s 26 provinces.

Health authorities in Uganda are on alert to prevent a Cholera epidemic that has killed over 530 people in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the last few days.

By Sunday, the epidemic had claimed at least 530 people and spread to 20 of Congo’s 26 provinces, the World Health Organisation (WHO) disclosed.

The most affected area is around the Grand Kasai region where the UN says it found sanitary and security conditions deplorable.

Cholera is a bacterial infection spread mostly by unsafe water and unsafe food that has been contaminated with human feces.

Common signs and symptoms include mild or severe illness, watery diarrhea that lasts a few days, vomiting and muscle cramps, severe dehydration, sunken eyes and cold skin.

Prof. Anthony Mbonye, the director general of health services at the health ministry said authorities were vigilant, but allayed any fears about the potential spread of the outbreak to Uganda.

“We are ready. Our cross-border surveillance system is alert all the time. We are not worried,” he told New Vision Monday.

Uganda shares numerous border points with DRC.

The country continues to receive refugees from DRC as they flee a protracted conflict in one of Africa’s wealthiest countries where militias continue to battle for control of large swathes of territory.

According to WHO, health officials have recorded more than 24,000 suspected cases of Cholera, with an average of more than 1,500 new cases per week since the end of July.

The global health body said it had sent a team of experts including epidemiologists and public health specialists to Congo to help contain the spread of the epidemic.

The Grand Kasai region where the infection has spread fast covers five of the DRC’s 26 provinces. It has in recent years become a flashpoint for clashes pitting government forces with a local militia.

Rose Biira, a clearing agent at Mpondwe border in Bwera sub-county, Kasese district said they were not aware of any reports of a Cholera outbreak near the region.

“Kasai region is far away from here. We have not heard about any Cholera outbreak in the nearby regions,” she told New Vision.

By Taddeo Bwambale

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