The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today received $9.1 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fight off cholera.
Cholera has affected more than 22,000 people and killed 500 over the past year in the central African country.
“Despite all our previous efforts, we have been one step behind the disease. This new funding will allow us to reinforce the entire response chain.” – Fidele Sarassoro, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC
(OCHA) reported that there has been a spike in cases in recent weeks, with the majority of them occurring in eastern provinces where cholera is endemic.
The water-borne epidemic has struck South Kivu, capital of Bukavu Province.
According to media reports, more than 1,600 confirmed cases with at least 14 deaths have been reported since last week.
OCHA underlined that in addition to the actual caseload, there are thousands of collateral victims as the disease is livelihood of households that are already among the world’s poorest.
The UN and other humanitarian agencies have been working with the Congolese Government for over a year to combat the disease, and the response has included establishing cholera treatment centres, providing water chlorination points and refurbishing water points, conducting awareness campaigns using the media, training of medical staff, and disinfecting boats.
Factors such as poor hygiene and little access to safe drinking water contribute to the outbreaks.
Over the past few years, Congo has faced numerous problems such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on for more than a decade.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacterium known as vibrio cholerae. The disease has a short incubation period and produces a toxin that causes continuous watery diarrhoea, a condition that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not administered promptly. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.
The disease remains a global threat and is one of the key indicators of social development, according to WHO. While cholera no longer poses a threat to countries with high standards of hygiene, it remains a challenge in countries with limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.