Kampala — AT least 26 Congolese refugees have died following an outbreak of cholera at a settlement in western Uganda.
More than 600 cases have been identified at the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement where thousands of vulnerable people from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) to the west.
The Uganda Ministry of Health also confirmed one cholera case in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement also in western Uganda.
Authorities, deeply alarmed at the deteriorating situation, have deployed a Rapid Response Team of ten cholera control specialists and medical supplies to complement ongoing responses efforts.
Investigations conducted by the ministry indicate that the refugees contract the infection from their places of origin and along the way to the East African country.
This year more than 42 000 people have crossed Lake Albert, bringing the total number of Congolese refugees in Uganda to over 251 000.
Some of the patients crossing into Uganda over Lake Albert by boat present symptoms like diarrhoea and severe dehydration on arrival.
"It is possible that bacteria are spread through unhygienic practices like open defecation and drinking unsafe water from the lake," a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, 156 community health workers are supporting efforts in Kyangwali.
Two cholera treatment units have been established.
Humanitarian agencies have donated two cholera kits with essential medicines and medical supplies for managing cases.
Technical teams are working at the landing site on the Albert lakeshore and in Kyangwali, conducting medical screening and treatment, community mobilization, clean water provision and hygiene promotion.