A growing cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed nearly 400 lives and affected more than 19,100 people since January, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"The total number of cholera cases in 2012 is around 90 percent of cases reported last year. Since January 2011, 983 people have died from the outbreak affecting eight of 11 provinces of the country," Yvon Edoumou, OCHA spokesman, told a news conference.
Since the outbreak started, more than 40,795 cases have been reported. Edoumou said the growing epidemic had put a strain on ongoing humanitarian interventions funded mainly by a US$9.1 million grant by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, which provides rapid response grants for humanitarian emergencies.
Experts have blamed the continued spread of cholera in the DRC on poor hygiene, lack of awareness about transmission mechanisms, limited access to protected and monitored water sources and a general lack of sanitation infrastructure.