MOZAMBIQUE: Floods could aggravate seasonal cholera
Cholera prevention programmes have bee intensified in flood affected areas
Johannesburg, 15 March 2010 (IRIN) - Cholera has claimed the lives of over 40 people in Mozambique and ongoing flooding throughout the central and northern parts of the country could "aggravate" the problem, aid agencies say.
"This is not unexpected," the Chief of Health and Nutrition at the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Mozambique, Roberto De Bernardi, told IRIN. The underlying factors of cholera in Mozambique have been related to pervasive water and sanitation problems, and a chronic lack of access to health facilities.
Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) noted on 15 March that 2,683 cases of cholera had been recorded since 3 January 2010, mainly in the provinces of Sofala, Nampula, Zambezia, Niassa and Cabo Delgado.
Cholera occurs seasonally, peaking during the rainy season from October through April, but torrential rain over the past few weeks and flooding in large parts of the country were not to blame.
|The floods could aggravate the cholera situation - it's a structural problem in Mozambique; I can't remember a year without cholera
"Until now we have not seen any cholera cases in the flood-affected areas," said De Bernardi, but "the floods could aggravate the cholera situation - it's a structural problem in Mozambique; I can't remember a year without cholera." As a precaution, cholera prevention programmes were being intensified in flood-affected areas.
The World Health Organization (WHO) country profile for Mozambique notes that the disease has been present in the country since 1973. In 1992, '93, '98, '99 and 2004, notified cholera cases in Mozambique represented one-third to one-fifth of all cases reported in Africa.
Cholera is a waterborne intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to rapid dehydration. Left untreated it can bring death within 24 hours, but WHO describes it as "an easily treatable disease" that can be cured with rehydration salts.
Health & Nutrition,
Water & Sanitation,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]