23 August 2012

Sierra Leone: Funds Needed to Respond to Cholera Outbreak

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Mothers in a waiting room at a clinic near Freetown.

press release

Freetown/Addis-Ababa/Geneva — Despite the best efforts of the Government and its partners - including the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society - cases of cholera in the country continue to rise. According to latest figures, 217 deaths and 11,992 cases have been reported across ten districts of the country, with half of cases in the capital Freetown.

On 16 August, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal for 1.1 million Swiss francs (US$1.14million) to enable the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society to strengthen its response to the epidemic, but the level of coverage is still very low.

Amanda McClelland, IFRC Emergency Health Coordinator, says the disease has the potential to cause a serious humanitarian crisis. "It is an urgent to step up our efforts as the situation is deteriorating quickly," she said. "But we need more funds to deliver the most effective response."

As part of the national task force on cholera lead by the Minister of Health, the national Red Cross society has sent hundreds of volunteers to affected districts since the first appearance of the disease. Volunteers are involved in health promotion activities, but also in helping affected families to prepare oral rehydration solutions and to construct adequate latrines.

An emergency response unit sent by the IFRC including experts in health, water and sanitation is also helping the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society to scale-up its efforts in the city and across the affected areas.

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