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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Uganda strives to contain raging cholera outbreaks

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- At Kalerwe, a slum area in Uganda’s capital Kampala, women struggle to scoop water out of their houses after a heavy downpour. 

Some houses, especially those in the swampy areas, are flooded up to window level. 

In neighboring Bwaise, another slum area, the situation is the same. Some pit latrines have been submerged by floods, further compromising the hygiene of the place.

Health experts are now warning that these conditions favor the outbreak of diseases like cholera. 

So far, four people from two families in Kalerwe have been confirmed to have the diarrheal disease and are now admitted at a city hospital.

The ministry of health fears that more cases may be reported. The Kampala outbreak, which was announced on Monday comes after another outbreak in neighboring Mpigi district.

In Mpigi district, three people from the same family are confirmed to have the disease and are now admitted at the same hospital as those patients from Kalerwe.

In Hoima district, over 200 km west of Kampala, there has been a raging outbreak that has left about 45 people dead and over 2,000 others, now discharged from hospital, since the outbreak was announced in February this year.

The ministry of health warns that some parts of the northwestern and eastern regions of the country are susceptible to having cholera outbreaks as the rain season hits it peak.

Cholera, according to the ministry, is a serious acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhea and vomiting and kills a person within hours. It is spread through eating and drinking food contaminated with fecal matter of an infected person.

Uganda is among the five African countries supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Fund and GAVI, global Vaccine Alliance, to use the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) in the fight against the deadly disease.

The institutions in a statement issued on May 7 said they are targeting 2 million people by mid-June to stop the wave of the deadly outbreaks in Africa.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa said the OCV exercise will be a game changer on the continent.

“With this historic cholera vaccination drive, countries in the region are demonstrating their commitment to stopping cholera from claiming more lives. We need to build on this momentum through a multisectoral approach and ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, no matter where they are located,” Moeti said.

In Uganda, the exercise kicked off on May 2 in Hoima district where the highest number of deaths and admissions have been registered. The exercise is targeting to reach over 360,000 people in the district among which include Democratic Republic of Congo refugees hosted in the district. 

The ministry said from now on, the OCV will be used its Integrated Cholera Prevention and Control Strategy.

“The vaccine reduces the risk of an individual getting sick with or dying of cholera,” the ministry said.

For emergency purposes, the ministry has set up isolation centers in the capital Kampala and in Hoima where outbreaks have been registered. The move is intended to stop the spread. 

The ministry has also rolled out a cholera awareness campaign where communities are told about its prevention and control measures. It has also intensified case management and surveillance of cholera cases.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Seven hospitalized as cholera breaks out in Ugandan capital

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda’s ministry of health on Monday said cholera has broken out in the capital Kampala, leaving seven people hospitalized.

The ministry in a statement said the seven are currently undergoing treatment at China-Uganda Friendship Hospital.

“Three of these cases are from one family residing in Mpigi District while the other four are from two families residing in Kalerwe in Kampala city,” the statement said.

The ministry said in order to avert further spread, it has set up two isolation centers, one at Mulago National Referral Hospital and the other at China-Uganda Friendship Hospital.

The ministry also said it has intensified case management and surveillance of cholera cases. Communities are also being sensitized on cholera and its prevention and control measures.

Cholera, according to the ministry, is a serious acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhea and vomiting and kills a person within hours. It is spread through eating and drinking food contaminated with fecal matter of an infected person.

The weather department recently warned that the ongoing heavy rains in the country are likely to result into the outbreak infectious and communicable diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and malaria.

The ministry last week started a cholera vaccination exercise in some parts of the country where the disease has broken out.

In midwestern Uganda, the disease has left over 45 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo dead and over 2,000 others hospitalized since it broke out in February this year.

“The Oral Cholera Vaccine is a key weapon in the fight against cholera. But it is important that other efforts such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene are stepped up, otherwise cholera will continue to haunt communities,” Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization representative in Uganda, said at the launch of the vaccination exercise. 

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Uganda completes first round of cholera vaccination

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda has completed the first round of a cholera vaccination campaign aimed at containing an outbreak that has left 45 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) refugees dead and over 2,000 others hospitalized since February.

WHO said in a statement issued on Wednesday the five-day immunization drive achieved 97.9 percent of the targeted 360,000 people that included refugees and locals in their efforts to control an ongoing cholera outbreak in Kyangwali and Kyaka Refugee Settlements.

The settlements located in the mid-western districts of Hoima and Kyegegwa host thousands of DRC refugees fleeing fighting back home.

“Kyangwali which hosts refugees from the DRC attained coverage of 105.87 percent,” the global health body said.

The east African country last week launched a five-day exercise at the six hot spots of Kigorobya, Kabwoya and Buseruka sub counties, Kigorobya Town Council and Kyangwali refugee settlement.

The second dose of immunization is scheduled for June 6-10.

Uganda is among the five African countries that WHO and other partners are supporting to use Oral Cholera Vaccination to stop the increase of outbreaks on the continent. The other countries include Nigeria, South Sudan, Zambia and Malawi.

Cholera, according to WHO, is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae.

WHO recommends that vaccination against cholera be considered in emergencies and other high-risk scenarios where there are increased threats of outbreaks.

Uganda completes first round of cholera vaccination

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Largest cholera vaccine drive to help two million people in Africa: WHO

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that the largest cholera vaccine campaign in history has been launched in Africa to help more than 2 million people in five countries to get access to oral cholera vaccine (OCV).

The vaccines, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, were sourced from the global stockpile and are being used to carry out five major campaigns in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan and Nigeria.

The OCV is recommended to be given in two doses. The first gives protection for six months, the second for three to five years. All five campaigns should have completed their second round of vaccinations by mid-June.

It’s the world’s largest cholera vaccine drive ever, which is scheduled to use over 15 million doses in the first four months of 2018, the WHO said. In comparison, in the 15 years between 1997 and 2012, just 1.5 million doses of cholera vaccines were used worldwide.

According to the latest WHO figures, the burden of cholera remains high in many African countries.

“Every rainy season, cholera springs up and brings devastation to communities across Africa,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. As of May 7 many countries are facing cholera outbreaks, with at least 12 areas or countries reporting active cholera transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.

“With this historic cholera vaccination drive, countries in the region are demonstrating their commitment to stopping cholera from claiming more lives,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said.

Though the OCV is a key weapon in the fight against cholera, many other aspects are no less important, such as, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, clean water and sanitation, treatment centers, supplies, public health guidance, training of health workers, and working with communities on prevention.

“This is an unprecedented response to a spike in cholera outbreaks across Africa,” said Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley, but “the only long-term, sustainable solution to cholera outbreaks” is still “improved water and sanitation.”

             

 

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