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UNICEF and partners work to stem cholera toll on northern Uganda’s displaced

Agency urges concerted effort to address outbreaks’ root causes

KAMPALA, 28 June 2006 – UNICEF in Uganda said today that an interagency response to contain separate cholera outbreaks in two conflict-affected districts of the north was contributing to a reduction in cases, but that more could be done in the area of prevention.

Health authorities in Kitgum District have reported approximately 830 cholera cases and 11 cholera-related deaths since the start of the latest outbreak 10 weeks ago, while 22 cases and no deaths have been reported in Pader District in the past five weeks.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization and humanitarian non-governmental organisations in the two districts have been supporting Uganda’s Ministry of Health and District Directorates of Health Services to manage 10 treatment centres, install pit latrines and water points, treat household water containers and promote awareness on cholera prevention in the camps for internally-displaced people (IDP).  UNICEF has committed $420,000 in technical, material and financial assistance to implement these and other activities since April.

UNICEF Representative in Uganda Martin Mogwanja said that while the emergency response was yielding results, there was a need to “tackle the more fundamental and longer-term issues.”

“The acute shortfall in the provision of water and sanitation services in the IDP camps, as well as conditions of overcrowding, provide a perfect breeding ground for this contagious disease, particularly with the onset of seasonal rains,” he said.  “Through stronger community prevention and response activities, and through continued improvements in humanitarian service provision, the Government and its partners must heighten their collective effort to address cholera, which accounts for a large portion of poor health in communities.”

In its Report on the Situation of Children and Women in Uganda, launched nationally last week, UNICEF said that at least 40 per cent of children in Kitgum and 60 per cent in Pader Districts were living in households with no protected source of drinking water; while 60 per cent of children in Kitgum and more than 80 per cent in Pader were in households without toilet facilities of any kind.

In May 2006, UNICEF issued an international funding appeal for $5.2 million to implement Water and Environmental Sanitation projects to benefit 1.4 million IDPs – including 657,000 children and women – in northern Uganda’s conflict-affected districts this year.  That appeal remains 33 per cent funded.

Key NGOs involved in the interagency cholera response include AMREF, AVSI, CCF, CESVI, COOPI, CONCERN Worldwide, GOAL, IMC, IRC, JRS, MEDAIR, MSF-France, MSF-Holland, Oxfam, the Red Cross Movement and World Vision.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 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, please contact:
Chulho Hyun, Communication Officer, UNICEF Uganda, Tel. +256 (0)77 2 222 347, chyun@unicef.org
Anne-Lydia Sekandi, Assistant Communication Officer, UNICEF Uganda, Tel. +256 (0)77 2409 016, alsekandi@unicef.org




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