24 July 2013

Sierra Leone: Cholera Epidemic May Hit Grafton Camp

Photo: Photo: Otto Bakano/IRIN
The cholera epidemic of 2012 showed that better preparation was necessary.

Residents of Grafton Old Camp in the outskirts of Freetown may be afflicted by the cholera epidemic due to open and indiscriminate defecation by adults and children alike in the environs of the camp. With dismal sanitary condition, which is made worse by inclement weather, residents are at risk of battling the scourge if decisive action is not taken by the relevant officials to nip in the bud another deadly outbreak.

In an interview with Concord Times, the local chief, Ya-AlimamyKamara, said the camp is unhygienic as a result of open defecation by residents in nearby drainages. This act, she said, is prevalent during the raining season, which in turn puts residents at risk of contracting cholera, diarrhea and dysentery.

"The old settlement is presently overcrowded with people from different locations and most of them do not want to abide by the community laws that govern the environment," Ya-AlimamyKamara noted, adding that few cases of the disease have already been reported.

She admonished residents to always clean their environment and to ensure that children wash their hands properly after using the toilet, and before meals.

A resident at the camp, Alhaji Conteh, urged parents to discipline their children when found defecating in the open. He said the community had in the past reported deaths due to cholera outbreak, especially during the raining season.

It would be recalled that the epidemic claimed thousands of lives across the country during last year's raining season, forcing the government to declare an emergency and solicit international and national humanitarian assistance to help curb the outbreak.

With many communities across the country lacking basic amenities such as safe-drinking water and basic toilet facility, coupled with weak infrastructure and ineffective disaster mitigation and response mechanisms, the outbreak of cholera and other diseases is often a serious concern during the months of July and August, the peak of the raining season.

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