Sierra Leone’s cholera epidemic is all over the news and a few of the headlines are listed below. Cholera is a preventable disease but it spreads like wildfire in a country such as Sierra Leone ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. Lack of housing, crowded living conditions, poor to no sanitation, a lack of understanding of basic hygiene, lack of clean water all of these descriptions help create the picture of why the epidemic is traveling so fast and why more will die before the epidemic is over.
As of September 11th, Sierra Leone has reported over 17,500 cases of cholera and over 260 deaths. Twelve of the 13 districts in the country have been affected. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. People usually become infected from drinking or eating contaminated water or food. It is associated with watery diarrhea and rapid dehydration, which can be life-threatening.
The GGM clinic in Freetown is not treating cholera patients due to the size and staffing of our clinic but we are seeing patients with the disease and referring them to cholera treatment centers. We have received funding from some of our donors for test kits that we are hand carrying to Sierra Leone in mid-September. These kits will be used at our clinic as well as donated to several of our referring hospitals.
We are also educating patients about the disease and what preventive measures they can take to keep from contracting the disease and what they should do if they or a loved one has symptoms of the disease. These are classes are being held in our new education center.
Government officials and the WHO are all stating that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better and education is the best medicine. GGM is joining the fight to educate the patients and the community against this preventable but deadly disease.
BBC News - Sierra Leone cholera death toll rises
Aug 20, 2012 – A cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone has infected more than 100000 people and kills at least 176 since January, officials say.
From Freetown the Sierra Express Media writes-Prevention is best for Cholera… By: SEM on September 7, 2012. Sierra Express Media would like to add voice to the latest threat of existence that has scourged our land and is still threatening the lives of our treasured country folks. As of the first week in September, the cumulative cases and death from cholera as reported by the Health and Sanitation Ministry were 15,564 and 249 deaths respectively. Twelve of the thirteen districts of the country are now affected. The Western area has continued to report the highest cases with Bombali, Tonkolili, and Kenema toeing the line.
World Vision Issued this Declaration
WV SIERRA LEONE Category II National Office Response Level Emergency Declaration for the Flood and Waterborne Disease Out Break: Owing to the current heavy rains that started in May 2012, Sierra Leone has experienced seasonal floods in different parts of the country especially in the low lands that includes the capital city Freetown. These floods in turn have caused an outbreak of water borne diseases of which Cholera is the most notable and has been declared a National Health disaster.
The Minister of Health, Madam Zainab Hawah Bangura, confirms that this is the worst Cholera Outbreak, since 1998, and as at 28th August 2012, it has claimed 231 lives, 14,465 reported cases and 11 districts affected
out of 12 districts, the Minister further predicts that the death toll will surpass the 2,500 deaths in the 2011 Cholera outbreak. Further, other agencies including UN have predicted that number of cases will increase to 32,000 in the next three months.