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Plan acts as cholera spreads across Cameroon

cholera outbreak 180

Plan carries out awareness- raising campaigns to reduce the number of cholera cases

16 May 2011: Cameroon’s capital city Yaoundé and eight neighbouring regions have been hit by another cholera epidemic. To date, nationwide, almost 5,600 cases have been counted, including 179 deaths. Death toll is highest amongst children, women and the elderly.

As the epidemic worsens by the day, Plan in partnership with the Ministry of health has started to respond: “Our main concern is to support the regional coordination of the response to the epidemic, to reach communities with information on how to prevent the disease and to identify, refer and treat critical cases,” said Casimir Youmbi, Plan’s Programme Support Manager.

Preventing infection, saving lives

Plan Cameroon provides in partnership with the Ministry of Health and local non-government organizations emergency support to affected communities. Initial work included distribution of clean water and disinfectant kits containing bleaches and sprays through 600 volunteers. In the city of Yaounde, which accounts for over 78% of all cases in the Centre region, the most affected region of the country, the team has started as of this week with awareness-raising campaign using information leaflets.

Since intervention action started in April, Plan produced 20,000 cartoons with cholera prevention information for children and youth to be distributed during community outreach activities.

“Good hygiene and public health messages can go a long way to reduce deaths,” said Unni Krishnan, disaster response policy coordinator at Plan International Headquarter.

Agreements have also been signed with the regional health districts in the Littoral and South West regions, where infection rates and deaths are on the rise.

Fears of rapid spread

Health experts fear that with the start of the rainy season next month the number of infection cases will rise. “Our goal is to act fast to prevent a further spread of the deathly disease”, said Famari Barro, Plan’s country Director in Cameroon. “This is the second major outbreak within a few months in Cameroon; we need to prevent the re- occurrence of the epidemic. We call for greater public investment and donor support in public water and sanitation infrastructure as well as for improved health and hygiene services,” continues Barro.

Plan Cameroon has been able to mobilize donor support from Irish Aid and Plan Canada to combat the epidemic, however Plan is in need of further financial support to expand response and prevention measures.

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