August 22, 2017
Following last week’s mudslides and flooding in some communities around Freetown which left over 500 dead and thousands displaced, the World Health Organisation has highlighted precautions for possible spread of infectious disease such as malaria and cholera.
Cholera outbreak was not unusual in Sierra Leone; the most recent cholera outbreak in the country occurred in 2012.
The organiSation noted that the damage to water and sanitation facilities to residents of affected areas are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of pre-existing infectious diseases including malaria and diarrheal conditions such as typhoid and cholera.
According to a press release dated August 21, the organisation noted that they were working with partners to ensure that the ongoing health care for the injured and displaced, and to provide psychological aid to those coping with trauma.
WHO has however mobilized significant human, technical and financial resources to respond to what the government has described as ‘humanitarian emergency’.
“The mudslides have caused extreme suffering and loss of life, and we must do all we can to protect the population from additional health risks,” said Alexander Chimbaru, Officer in Charge of WHO Sierra Leone.
The release said WHO is working with health authorities in the country to maximize efforts to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks and that cholera response kits, including rapid testing tools, are being distributed to areas at risk.
According to WHO, health and community workers were being trained to recognize the signs of priority diseases, and the Organization was sending additional cholera and emergency kits to the country.
“While the Government and WHO are working hard to strengthen health services in the affected areas, we also urge the population to take the following precautions to help avoid a possible outbreak: hand washing, drinking only water that has been properly boiled or treated, use of latrines for sanitation, and adherence to good food hygiene practices”, added Dr. Chimbaru.
The release said WHO was also providing extensive support in the area of infection prevention and control at health facilities and at the mortuary located at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, as well as community engagement and psychological first aid.