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1.68 million people reached in response to water-borne diseases

Multi-partner effort tackles increasing incidence of cholera

KHARTOUM, 9 August 2006 - An estimated 1.68 million people have benefited from a massive response to growing incidences of acute watery diarrhoea and cholera in the north of Sudan, as the Federal Ministry of Health, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the State Governments, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and community partners all step up efforts to safeguard drinking water supplies, improve hygiene and food practices, as well as scale up active case detection and appropriate management.

More than 5,800 cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been reported in north Sudan since April 2006. About 40 per cent of 235 stool specimens collected so far have tested positive for Vibrio Cholera. The number of cases of acute water diarrhoea has increased noticeably in recent weeks, with outbreaks reported in camps for internally displaced persons in Darfur as well as settled areas. In the last four months, 194 people have died from this water-borne disease.

UNICEF Representative to Sudan, Ted Chaiban, announced today that UNICEF is supporting the government’s response to the outbreak by providing 2.3 tons of chlorine powder to the most affected communities to disinfect water supplies, along with more than 60 million water purification tablets, 205,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts as well as other medical supplies for treatment of diarrhoea. In addition, UNICEF has supplied 3.6 million bars of soap and 2,000 jerrycans to improve safe water storage and household hygiene. The agency is supporting the provision of information materials and community-based awareness activities to help households protect themselves against the risk of diarrhoea and cholera. Over 15 million people have been reached 150,000 with materials printed and distributed by IEC, as well as radio and TV public service announcements and programmes in eleven affected states.

WHO is providing technical support to the government for containing the current outbreaks, including strengthening the surveillance system for cholera, standardizing case management and scaling up laboratory isolation of cholera organisms in areas not currently affected by the outbreak, enabling appropriate public health containment measures to be undertaken in advance. WHO is also working closely with the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as UNICEF, on daily information sharing and epidemic risk assessment in interrupting transmission and spread of outbreaks into newer areas. WHO has also provided eleven cholera kits to the Federal Ministry of Health – enough for treating more than 3,000 cases using a standard treatment guideline. WHO has also supported the National Public Health Laboratory with laboratory supplies and diagnostic kits for stepping up laboratory isolation of Vibrio Cholera in the affected states. 

“This response has required the efforts of many partners, including those in the federal and state governments, other UN agencies, NGOs and local communities themselves,” said Dr. Mohamed Abdurrab, the WHO Representative to Sudan. “As such, it underlines what can be achieved through effective coordination, and strong leadership from authorities on the ground.”

“We are confident that while there is access to affected populations, and communities continue to support the efforts of those working on this operation, we can stem the disease outbreaks,” added UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban. “It is critical that every water point is safeguarded, and that families and individuals observe minimum sanitation practices and report timely to health facilities once they have symptoms. By working together in this way, the overall situation with regard to cholera has started to improve and the disease has been brought under control in many areas.  New areas with disease are however emerging and we remain determined to control the spread of diarrhoeal disease and prevent more deaths.”

UNICEF and WHO have launched a joint appeal for US$ 5.6 million for an ongoing cholera prevention operation; as of today, US$ 1.95 million and US$ 0.6 million has been received or pledged to UNICEF and WHO respectively by donors – including the United States, ECHO and the multi-donor Common Humanitarian Fund.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 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 informtion, please contact:

Edward Carwardine, Senior Communication Officer, UNICEF Sudan
Mobile:  +249 (0)912 177 291
Email: ecarwardine@unicef.org

Charlotte Wiback, Communication Officer,WHO Sudan,Tel: 249-83-760406/7
Mobile: +249-(0)912 167 156
Email:  wibackc@sud.emro.who.int




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