World Health Organization And Sudan Ministry of Health Scale Up Response To Cholera Outbreak

As a cholera outbreak inches closer to Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum, the Sudanese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization are scaling up the response. Two cholera cases were confirmed in the district of Khartoum State on October 19. As of Monday, November 3, the Ministry of Health had reported 332  suspected cases of cholera since 28 August when the first case was detected.

While the recent cases have been mostly concentrated in Blue Nile and Sennar States, officials are concerned that if the current outbreak of the often fatal diarrhoeal disease spreads more widely in Khartoum State and from there, to the very densely populated, urban areas of the capital city, it would have an even more serious impact, particularly on children.

“The risk of cholera spreading is very real. If not properly managed, this could have potentially serious consequences. More than eight million people live in Khartoum State, where the public health system is impacted by the economic crisis, recent flooding, and ongoing outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said Naeema Al Gasseer, WHO Representative in Sudan, in a press release.

A health worker monitors the cholera vaccination campaign in Sennar.

Together with the Ministry of Health, WHO has conducted initial risk mapping in Khartoum State to identify which areas are more likely to be at increased risk. This will allow for more informed planning to ensure that vulnerable areas, such as Sharq Elnil and Ombada localities, are better prepared to respond. Two cholera treatment centers are being set up in Ombada and Bahri localities. So far, WHO has delivered cholera medicines and supplies to treat 400 severely dehydrated patients, as well as 500 rapid diagnostic tests, which can be used for screening suspected cases in health facilities. Some 1.6 million people are also to be vaccinated in Blue Nile and Sennar States as part of the response.

Some 271 health staff and paramedics have been trained in cholera detection and management with support from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and WHO. The Ministry of Health and WHO are working with more than 1700 male and female health promoters and volunteers to raise awareness of cholera, as well as provide education on hygiene practices and environmental health in communities affected or at risk.

“A key aspect of preventing and controlling cholera is how well at-risk communities are able to protect themselves by drinking safe water, properly handling food, avoiding defecation in open areas, hand-washing, and knowing what to do when they see the first signs of infection,” said Al Gasseer.


Image Credits: Twitter: @WHOSudan.

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