Cholera kills 30 in Somalia: WHO launches urgent response

Mogadishu, Somalia – The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Tuesday that it has significantly bolstered its response interventions in Somalia to stem the tide of cholera and avert further loss of life.

The announcement follows a recent surge in cholera-related fatalities, with 30 deaths recorded since January.

According to the WHO’s weekly cholera update, Somalia has been grappling with persistent cholera transmission in 28 drought-affected districts since 2022, along with the Banadir region, which has faced ongoing transmission since the devastating drought of 2017.

“From the start of epidemiological week 1 in 2023, a total of 11,704 suspected cases of cholera, including 30 associated deaths, have been reported across 28 districts in Somalia,” stated the WHO report released in Mogadishu, the nation’s capital.

Late in July, the WHO received reports of 235 new suspected cases in the drought-affected districts, with no associated fatalities. The overall case fatality rate of 0.3 percent, as reported across the aforementioned districts, remains below the emergency threshold of over 1 percent set by health authorities.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the WHO, in collaboration with health partners, has swiftly escalated its efforts to implement robust cholera response interventions in the drought-affected districts. Special attention is being paid to Jubaland state, which currently serves as the epicenter of the ongoing outbreak.

The United Nations had previously warned in April that flash floods and riverine inundation resulting from heavy rainfall in Somalia could exacerbate the prevalence of waterborne diseases. The combination of inadequate sanitation infrastructure, limited access to clean water sources, and the displacement of communities due to the adverse effects of climate change poses a significant challenge in effectively containing and eradicating cholera outbreaks.

In response to the escalating crisis, the WHO and its partners have mobilized resources and expertise to provide urgent medical assistance, improve water and sanitation facilities, and enhance community awareness campaigns.

These measures aim to curb the transmission of cholera, ensure timely diagnosis and treatment, and strengthen overall healthcare capacities in affected areas.

Safeguarding the health and well-being of the Somali population remains paramount. The WHO’s intensified response efforts underscore the collective commitment of global health organizations, governments, and humanitarian actors to address the immediate needs of the affected communities and prevent further loss of life.

Cholera, a highly contagious waterborne disease, poses a grave threat to public health and hampers socio-economic development in Somalia. The WHO’s proactive approach, coupled with the concerted efforts of local authorities and international partners, is crucial in mitigating the impact of the outbreak and providing hope for a healthier future for Somalia.

As the situation evolves, the WHO said it will continue to monitor the cholera outbreak closely, adapt response strategies as necessary, and collaborate with stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive and effective response.

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