18 September 2012

Somalia: Suspected Cholera Kills a Dozen in South

Mogadishu — A suspected cholera outbreak has killed about a dozen people in the southern Somali village of Hoosingo, in the district of Badade in Lower Juba, say government and health officials.

"One of the biggest problems we have is that we do not what this disease is," Adan Ibrahim Dhaqane, the Hoosingo Village commissioner, told IRIN by telephone.

"Schools, madrasas [and] restaurants are all closed to prevent the disease from spreading," he said.

Dhaqane said that at least 19 people had died since the outbreak started on 5 September, with 12 others sick. "We call [on] the aid agencies to help us in the following areas: provision of a steady supply of medicine, [the] identification of the disease and the setting up of health centres. We have no hospital, no MCH [maternal and child health centre] and no other health facility, simply tents."

According to a recent Somalia emergency health update by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), some 12 deaths and 107 cases of the disease were reported between 5-13 September, the majority of them being children above the age of five.

Abdimalik Sheikh Mohamed spoke of his daughter's death from the disease. "My daughter Sadia, five, was the first person to die. It was 5 September. She started vomiting and in a few minutes she was gone," he said. "There is not enough medicine and the village is remote."

Hoosingo is located about 100km from the Kenya-Somalia border town of Liboi and is not served by any health facilities, notes the WHO update, which expresses concern about the increased risk of a widespread cholera outbreak in Lower Juba Region and along the Kenya-Somalia border.

"Suspected cases have [also] been reported from Waraq, some 70km from Liboi. These areas [Hoosingo and Waraq] are transit points into Kenya, hence the risk of cross-border transmission," stated the emergency health update.

Insecurity in parts of the Lower Juba region has rendered some areas inaccessible. "With the ongoing conflict and subsequent population displacement and disruption of the existing health service access points in the region, the risk of sporadic cholera outbreaks in the Southern zone cannot be excluded," notes the WHO update, urging health and water and sanitation partners to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases of the disease.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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