UN warns upcoming heavy rains to trigger cholera outbreak in Somalia

The upcoming heavier-than-normal Gu (April to June) rains in Somalia are expected to trigger cholera outbreaks in areas where the disease has not been observed for years, the UN humanitarian agency warned Monday.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it has teamed up with its partners and Somali health authorities to step up response and preparedness activities, guided by a six-month plan of action that requires 5.9 million U.S. dollars to implement.

“The outbreak is expected to escalate when the anticipated heavier-than-normal Gu rains start, especially in high-risk districts located along the Shabelle and Juba river basins,” the OCHA said in its update for cholera released in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The cholera outbreak is spreading in Somalia, with more than 4,380 cases and 54 associated deaths recorded in 32 districts from Jan. 1 to March 18, according to the UN. Sixty-two percent of the deaths were among children under the age of five.

The disease is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through food and water contaminated with bacteria, often from feces.

“The outbreak is driven by high levels of malnutrition among children, insufficient access to clean water, open defecation practices, latrines with poor hygiene, and inadequate sanitation among communities, among other factors,” the OCHA said.

The UN agency said the ongoing response is facing challenges, including limited skilled health workers to manage complicated cases, high population movements, low community sensitization, poor infrastructure in treatment centers, and inadequate funding.

Somalia has had uninterrupted AWD (acute watery diarrhea)/cholera transmission since 2022 and in the Banadir region since the drought of 2017, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2023, more than 18,304 cumulative cases and 46 deaths were reported in Somalia, including over 10,000 children aged below five years, the WHO said.

Source: Xinhua

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