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Namibian Flood Victims Receive UN Health Care Help

Namibian flood victims receive UN help in health care, kindergartens

17 April 2008 - Apart from helping the Namibian authorities to train health workers in critical steps to stem cholera outbreaks following widespread flooding, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is now working to provide kindergartens for toddlers in relocation camps.

Over 71,000 people have been affected by the floods and more than 4,600 have moved into the camps, where they wait for basic supplies to reach them. Some 40 primary schools have been closed because they were either flooded or cut off by fast-flowing water.

There is now a need to provide young children in the camps with safe spaces where they can learn and play, UNICEF Namibia Child Protection Officer Celia Kaunatjike said in an update on the situation in the southern African country.

UNICEF is in the process of procuring tents and recreational kits for kindergartens that will be run by volunteers from among the camps' residents.

In partnership with other UN agencies and the Namibian Government, UNICEF is working to support residents of the flood-affected regions as they rebuild their lives and livelihoods. For now, many Namibians are simply waiting for the water to recede.

Since the floods struck last month, UNICEF has been helping the Government fight cholera, a bacterial disease marked by acute diarrhoea which is spread by contaminated water and can kill in less than a day, especially children. But the vast majority of patients can survive if they receive treatment in time - such as oral re-hydration salts to replace lost fluids, and in especially severe cases the intravenous administration of fluids.

At least 958 cases of cholera have been reported to the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services.

UNICEF recently assisted the Government in training the first group of activists, who will now be involved in training others to combat the disease. It is also supporting the Government and other partners in producing radio spots on cholera prevention, and in distributing water purification tablets, necessary in a region where flooding has exacerbated the already poor sanitation.

ENDS

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