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UNICEF Boosts Efforts To Tackle Deadly Cholera

UNICEF Boosts Efforts To Tackle Deadly Cholera Epidemic in Guinea-Bissau

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stepped up its efforts to control an especially virulent outbreak of cholera in Guinea-Bissau, where at least 96 people have died since mid-May and almost 300 new cases were reported in just two days last week.

The agency, which was been working with officials from the national health ministry since the outbreak began, has drafted staff from neighbouring Guinea to assist its existing cholera crisis team, according to an update issued by UNICEFon Friday.

The crisis team is focused on bringing in supplies of rehydration salts, medicines, tents, beds, bleach, sodium hypochlorite and other materials, as well as on sensitizing the local population to adopt preventive behaviours.

Posters, brochures and other communication materials have been distributed near churches, mosques, markets and other public places as part of efforts to encourage hygienic practices.

UNICEF has also provided local officials with 450 additional kilograms of sodium hypochlorite so disinfection brigades can use them to clean the water system and wells in the capital, Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau’s water and sanitation infrastructure, which dates from the colonial era, has deteriorated badly, according to UNICEF, which said only one in five residents of Bissau have access to tap water.

Since the current outbreak began in May, 4,184 cases have been recorded across the country, with the capital by far the worst affected. In two days last week 286 new cases and six deaths were reported.

An outbreak in 2005 killed around 400 people infected 25,000 others in Guinea-Bissau, and young children have been particularly vulnerable to the disease.

ENDS

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