18 October 2012

Sierra Leone: Cholera Ebbing in Sierra Leone

Photo: Anna Jefferys/IRIN
A mother washes her child in Kroo Bay slum in Freetown, where access to basic sanitation is severely limited and cholera outbreaks are regular occurrences.

Freetown — Sierra Leone's worst cholera outbreak in 15 years has eased in the past two months and new infections each week have recently dipped to below 1,000.

Some 841 new cases were reported in the first week of October. The figure fell to 433 the following week, according to data from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization. Although the decline began in late August, reported cases were still above 1,000 per week at that time.

Since February when the outbreak started, 21,815 people have been infected and 292 others killed. Heavy rains in August accelerated the spread of the disease, which infected people in 12 of Sierra Leone's 13 districts.

Moira Fratta, UNICEF's emergency specialist in Sierra Leone, told IRIN the outbreak is expected to last for some weeks to come.

"We are starting to think of how to work for preparedness for next year. We hope that it will not happen, but there could be an outbreak."

Improving the quality and availability of water, hygiene and health care are important if cholera is to be eradicated in Sierra Leone, a country emerging from the devastation of the 1991-2002 civil war.

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

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