The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today reported that that a cholera has infected 21,500 people across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The cholera outbreak has killed 575 Congolese, according to OCHA. Poor access to clean water and decent sanitation remains the biggest problem in halting the spread of the outbreak.
Equateur is the province most affected by this year’s outbreak across the DRC, although Bandundu and Eastern provinces and the national capital, Kinshasa, have also been hit.
OCHA reported that the cholera outbreak is almost over in the worst-affected province, but fresh cases are being recorded in two other areas.
OCHA also said a Government committee in the province of Equateur is set to announce the end of the outbreak there after three weeks with no reports of new cases.
The Congolese committee has decided to close a dedicated cholera treatment centre in Mbandaka, the provincial capital, this month and has identified a hospital in the same city to house a treatment unit to deal with other cases.
OCHA warned that despite this progress, 15 zones in the province remain under surveillance from health authorities.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been assisting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to chlorinate water in the urban areas of Bagira, Ibanda and Kadutu.
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.