Friday, June 2, 2023
NewsResponse proves inadequate as cholera spreads rapidly in Ethiopia

Response proves inadequate as cholera spreads rapidly in Ethiopia

Containment is in single digits

Containing the cholera outbreak has been successful in only nine of the 53 infected woredas belonging to four regional states in the southern part of Ethiopia, the Health Minister revealed.

Since the first case was recorded in Harena Buluk Woreda of Bale Zone in the Oromia Regional State 10 months ago, the cholera outbreak has spread to over four dozen woredas in neighboring regions, with Oromia recording the largest number.

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Through response work by the Ministry of Health and partners, complete containment of the outbreak was successful in only 16 percent of the affected woredas, ministry officials told Members of Parliament (MPs) on May 18, 2023.

Oromia Regional State has 25 of its woredas affected by the outbreak, while the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region has 21 woredas affected. The outbreak has also affected four and three woredas in the Sidama and Somali regional states, respectively.

Response work succeeded in seven of the woredas in Oromia and two in Somali regions, Health Minister Lia Tadesse (MD) said while presenting her Ministry’s first three-quarter performance report to the MPs.

Until the beginning of last week, about 6,592 people were infected, and over 97 percent were cured, according to the Minister.

“While 104 people have died so far, representing a fatality rate of 1.6 percent, 45 patients are currently receiving treatment in hospitals,” Lia said.

On the same day the Health Minister presented her report to Parliamentarians, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) released a statement saying that inadequate responses in the health sector coupled with the contamination of water resources “triggered the increasing cholera cases.”

Close to two million doses of cholera vaccine to contain the outbreak were purchased and dispatched in April 2023, according to the UNOCHA statement.

Lia said that about 86,000 people in the most affected areas of the Oromia and Somali regions have been vaccinated so far.

“Beginning this week, around 1.8 million people in the affected areas will be vaccinated. All preparation is finalized to undertake the task,” she told the MPs.

Presenting her office’s response efforts, Lia said about 56 temporary treatment centers were established in all the areas, 29 communal toilets were built, and necessary treatment materials were distributed.

“The main causes of the outbreak are shortages of clean drinking water, limited toilet availability, and insufficient awareness of health issues,” she said.

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