BAMAKO, 28 May 2013 – A cholera outbreak in Gao region has claimed two lives and left another 20 people needing urgent treatment. This is the first outbreak of the disease in Mali since the start of the rainy season. With the Ministry of Health, WHO and other partners UNICEF is stepping up assistance to affected communities in Asongo district as well as prevention and awareness-raising activities.
“Everyone must act quickly or this disease will continue to claim the lives of the most vulnerable, and especially children,” said UNICEF Representative Francoise Ackermans. “We will continue to work with communities to help them learn how to prevent this disease from spreading and to know what to do if people become sick,” she added.
Cholera is a disease caused by poor hygiene and sanitation and can be contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food or liquids. Poor health services mean that treatment may be late or inadequate. The disease is often associated with the poorest and most vulnerable communities as they are the least likely to have access to latrines or safe water.
UNICEF and its partners are working on the affected zones to ensure an effective response. This includes supplying water treatment equipment, chlorine products, medicines and sensitization publicity material for communities. Since 11 May, UNICEF has sent more than 40 tons of hygiene and water treatment materials to ensure safe drinking water to over 54,000 people in the impacted area and to disinfect 10 cholera treatment facilities. Furthermore, UNICEF is working with local authorities, civil society and communities across the affected districts to expand access to improved water and sanitation and to educate families on how to prevent the spread of the disease and equip health facilities with supplies, skills and expertise.
“Hand-washing campaigns, treatment of drinking water and awareness-raising campaigns through local and national radio, door-to-door visits, religious and traditional leaders, and other channels must be carried out in the months to come. This will help mitigate cholera cases in the affected zones and help prevent the spread to other parts of the country and neighboring countries,” said Ackermans.
A deterioration of social services in Northern Mali will contribute to the spread of cholera, and there is concern that this will mean that outbreaks may be far worse than in previous years. UNICEF continues to support the government, NGOs and civil society to meet immediate needs and decrease the impact of the cholera outbreak in vulnerable families and communities.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Hector Calderon, Chief Communication, UNICEF Mali, Tel +223 75 99 40 89 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Cao, Public Information Officer & Media Relations Officer, UNICEF Mali, Tel +223 75 99 58 46 email@example.com
Ismail Maiga, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Mali, Tel + 223 76 40 91 01 firstname.lastname@example.org