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Cablegate: Cholera Outbreak in the Kurdish Region

DE RUEHGB #2899 2411339
P 291339Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: Over the past two weeks there has been a rise in
illnesses with diarrhea and vomiting in Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk.
The Kurdistan regional Minister of Health estimates that there are a
total of 4,000 new cases since the middle of August. Of these cases,
70 have been confirmed as cholera (23 in Sulaymaniyah and 47 in
Kirkuk.) GoI measures are in progress to handle the outbreak. MNF
and the US Embassy are assisting. END SUMMARY.

Preliminary Reports

2. Dr. Sherko Abdulla, Director General of Health, Sulaymaniyah
Province, reported that over the past two weeks there has been a
rise in illnesses with diarrhea and vomiting in Sulaymaniyah and
Kirkuk, 2,000 cases and 1,925 cases respectively. Laboratory tests
have confirmed 70 cases are cholera, 23 in Sulaymaniyah and 47 in
Kirkuk. Of the 47 Kirkuk cases only 2 have been confirmed as cholera
by the Central Baghdad Public Health Lab. Six deaths have resulted.
There is also one unconfirmed case of cholera reported in Salah ad

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3. Chronic food and water infrastructure problems, along with
seasonal or warm-weather diarrheal disease outbreaks are cited in an
August 26 Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC) and
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment as possible causes of
increased cholera cases.

Iraqis Respond

4. The Iraqi Ministry of Health (MOH), without U.S. assistance,
dispatched a team from the Public Health Directorate and delivered
additional fluids and drugs to the North. Additionally, Deputy
Prime Minister Barham Saleh has met with representatives from the
United Nations (UN) who have arranged to send an assessment team
from the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, the
International Medical Corps (IMC), a USAID implementing partner, has
been in Sulaymaniyah since August 28, 2007, to assist in providing
technical assistance in cholera management. The IMC is taking on an
integral part of the emergency coordination room that has been
established by the Kurdish MoH. Significant support is also
provided by UNICEF in the form of equipment, medical supplies, and
water purification kits.

5. The Kurdistan Minister of Health, Dr. Abdul Rahman Yones, has
requested investigational technical assistance from Multi-National
Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) and has requested Multi-National Corps-Iraq
(MNC-I) to provide additional guidance on public health measures
that can be implemented. The MNC-I Office of the Surgeon General
will provide technical assistance, but not conduct the actual
investigation. MNF-I has created a "ready to assist" operational
order to be released when appropriate.

Coalition Response

6. In partnership with the Iraqis, the United States Mission Iraq
(USM-I) and coalition forces have formed a team to coordinate
assistance efforts in managing these cholera situations. Assistance
will come in three parts; supplies and equipment needed to manage
the outbreak; a public information campaign to help stem the rate of
infection; and technical expertise in handling the cases of cholera
and investigating the cause of contamination.


7. COMMENT: The Iraqi Ministry of Health acted swiftly to move
fluids, equipment and medicine to the Kurdish region, once help was
requested by Kurdish officials. They have kept in contact with the
USM-I and requested assistance when needed. While it's worth noting
that field training for Iraqis regarding this very topic, outbreak
investigation and control, is slated for no later than March 2008,
it is promising to witness Iraqis demonstrating their willingness
and capacity to take the lead. END COMMENT.

© Scoop Media

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