New York, Nov 22 2011 12:10PM
Recurring drought, insufficient hygiene and ongoing regional conflict are driving a deadly outbreak of acute watery
diarrhoea (AWD) across the Horn of Africa, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva that more than 50,000 cases of AWD have been recorded in the
region this year, resulting in over 700 deaths in Djibouti and Somalia.
A clinical form of deadly diarrhoeal disease, AWD can last several hours or days, depriving the body of water and salts
that are necessary for survival. Most people who die from diarrhoea succumb to severe dehydration and fluid loss.
Pointing to reports from the health ministry in Djibouti, Mr. Jasarevic said the incidence of AWD had rapidly spread
across the country, more than doubling since last year with 5,000 cases announced in 2011 alone. He noted that the
number of cases was likely to be under-reported as not all were being detected.
But Mr. Jasarevic emphasized that prevention and contingency planning from WHO and the health ministry was already
having an impact in Djibouti, with both entities providing training for health workers, pre-positioning oral rehydration
salts and essential medicines, and chlorinating and monitoring water supplies. WHO had also supplied five emergency kits
for diarrhoea and cholera, and they will arrive shortly, he added.
The spread of AWD was being facilitated by the overall situation in the Horn of Africa, Mr. Jasarevic said, as recurring
drought in both Djibouti and neighbouring countries was weakening the population and exposing it to contagion.
He also noted that 54,000 cases of AWD had been reported in south-central Somalia, resulting in 795 deaths, while the
outbreak of the disease was also on an upward trend in the all five refugee camps at the Dadaab complex in Kenya.
Nov 22 2011 12:10PM
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news