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UNICEF sending urgent supplies to women and children affected by Cameroon’s worst cholera outbreak in six years

YAOUNDÉ, CAMEROON 10 August 2010 - UNICEF has joined WHO, UNFPA, WFP and UNHCR in sending urgently needed supplies to thousands of people affected by Cameroon’s worst outbreak of cholera since 2004, but remains deeply concerned about the plight of women and children in the area.

The current outbreak, which started in May 2010 in the Extreme North region of Cameroon and has subsequently spread to the neighboring North region, has to-date caused over 2,199 confirmed cases of cholera resulting in 163 deaths.  This constitutes a high fatality rate of 7.41 per cent.

Characterised by a limited availability of clean water and proper sanitation, the Extreme North and North regions of Cameroon comprise an estimated population of over 5 million people, and share borders with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic.  In addition, parts of the Extreme North region have suffered extensive flooding over the past month, leaving many communities increasingly vulnerable to disease. UNICEF is concerned that any further spread of the outbreak could have serious consequences for women and children across the sub-region.

Working with the government and other partners including WHO, UNFPA, WFP, UNHCR and the Red Cross, UNICEF has been responding to the needs of women and children in the area, but is pushing for a greater response.

To date, UNICEF has provided surgical gloves, hygiene kits, family water kits for the hygiene, conservation and treatment or water, Calcium Hypochlorite, drugs for the treatment of cholera including Oral Rehydration Salts as well as education materials to inform the communities of the dangers.

“Four months into this outbreak we are facing the very real possibility of Cholera spreading to neighboring regions and countries,” said Ora Musu Clemens-Hope, UNICEF Representative, Cameroon. “Combined with existing flooding in the region, this could have a devastating effect on children, who are the most vulnerable.  We are working with the government to improve the response, and we are calling on the international community to support our efforts.”

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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 further information please contact:
Jeremy Sprigge, Communications, UNICEF Cameroon,
Mobile: + 237 792 607 49 / Office: +237 22 22 03 93/22 22 31 82 (ext 239),
Email: jsprigge@unicef.org




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