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Somalia, 30 January 2017: Sharp increase in number of people suffering from acute watery diarrhoea

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Abdullahi
Ten year old Mohamed Deeq, was brought to Baidoa hospital where he was treated for Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD).

 
By Mohamed Abdullahi, WASH officer, UNICEF Somalia

BAIDOA, Somalia, 30 January 2017 – Hundreds of people, mainly women and children, suffering from acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) have been treated in hospitals and health centres in central and southern Somalia.

In southern regions of Somalia, more than 2,300 AWD cases have been reported since the start of the year and the number is expected to increase as drought conditions intensify. Baidoa is one of the worst hit with nearly 250 cases in the last week of January alone.

The River Shabelle, which many villages and towns rely on, is very low and expected to dry up two month’s earlier than last year.

The drought is now affecting most of Somalia, triggering additional displacements, in particular to urban centres and more than 3,000 families have arrived in Baidoa putting pressure on limited resources.'

UNICEF is supporting health centres to prevent and treat AWD. Its partner, Swiss Kalmo, has delivered enough sodium lactate to the Baidoa hospitals to treat 500 severe cases. UNICEF has also handed over drums of chorine to chlorinate Baidoa’s water supply, its hand dug wells and for the hospitals. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) kits are at each Baidoa hospital and UNICEF has put in place diarrhoeal disease kits containing sodium compound lactate, oral rehydration salts, antibiotics and accessories to treat 500 AWD/cholera cases including 100 severe and 400 moderate/mild cases and distributed Aquatabs for 18,000 people in Baidoa and IDP camps.

UNICEF is scaling up information to the public on how to prevent AWD through using water from safe sources, treating water stored at home, keeping good hygiene and clean surroundings, as well as what to do if someone develops diarrhoea or other symptoms.

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Abdullahi
Amina is given hygiene items after her sons were discharged from hospital in Baidoa.

Acute watery diarrhea leads to fluid loss, which can be life threatening, particularly in young infants and children who are malnourished or have impaired immunity. It can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms, one of them being the bacteria that causes cholera. The symptoms of cholera-AWD and non-cholera AWD are very similar and immediate treatment and prevention measures are similar. Only 10-20 per cent of those with cholera develop AWD symptoms – the others carry and pass on the infection without falling ill.

Amina Mohamed Salad brought her two children aged 4 and 5 years to Baidoa Hospital as they were suffering from acute watery diarrhoea.

“The Baidoa hospital team treated my two boys as soon as I came to the hospital,” she said. “They were injected with a rehydration solution and they have given me hygiene kits including soap, Aquatabs and a bucket.”

“My neighbours advised to me not to bring the children to hospital saying that they could not be treated there. But I will inform all mothers living nearby to go to the hospital if they feel or see any symptoms of AWD,” Amina added.

The Director General of the Ministry of Health for South West State, Isak Mursal said they were doing as much as possible to contain the outbreak. “We have already started mass chlorination of all unprotected shallow wells in Baidoa and we have delivered Chlorine to the Baidoa Water Supply Company to chlorinate the piped water supply to Baidoa town.”

The Director General of the Ministry of Health for South West State, Isak Mursal said they were doing as much as possible to contain the outbreak. “We have already started mass chlorination of all unprotected shallow wells in Baidoa and we have delivered Chlorine to the Baidoa Water Supply Company to chlorinate the piped water supply to Baidoa town.”

 

 
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