‘About 15,000 suspected diarrhoea cases reported in Sudan’: OCHA
According to the latest joint epidemiological bulletin by the Sudanese Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO), almost 15,000 suspected cases of Acute Watery Diarrhoea, including 279 deaths, were reported in Sudan between mid-August 2016 and 2 June this year.
Since the last reporting period (epidemiological week 22), a total of 1,373 new cases were reported, including 16 deaths, the Health Ministry and WHO said.
Overall 67 localities in Blue Nile, Sennar, El Gedaref, Kassala, Red Sea, Northern State, River Nile, Khartoum, North Kordofan, El Gezira, and White Nile states are affected, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan said in its bulletin last week.
The South Kordofan Health Ministry reported to WHO a cumulative number of 83 AWD cases since 24 May, affecting six out of 17 localities.
According to epidemiological findings, about 87 per cent of the affected population are five years of age and above, while nine percent are under five years. All patients with AWD presented symptoms of diarrhoea and 80 percent reported vomiting, while 8.8 percent showed symptoms of abdominal pain, and 1.8 percent reported fever.
“WHO procured more Diarrhoeal Diseases Kits and Rapid Response Kits, which will be distributed to target states early next week,” the OCHA bulletin reads.
Last week, the federal Minister of Health, Bahar Abugarda, told the national parliament that between August 2016 and May this year 14,659 people were infected and 292 died of watery diarrhoea.
The Sudanese authorities refuse to make any reference to the disease being cholera. Last week, the Khartoum Health Ministry dismissed the director of the Omdurman Emergency Hospital for reporting “cholera cases”. Three activists of the Sudanese Congress Party who conducted a cholera awareness campaign in Khartoum North were detained on Wednesday.
The media have been warned not to report on the outbreak as well. In April, security officers held a correspondent of El Sayha newspaper in eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref because he published an article about “cholera”.
Cholera is a fast-developing, highly contagious infection that can spread in areas short of clean drinking water and with poor sanitation. In September last year Radio Dabanga received the first reports about cholera cases, in Blue Nile state. Since then, the disease spread in eastern Sudan, and later to the Northern State and central Sudan’s El Gezira. In April, sources in White Nile state reported a rapid spread of cholera. The disease then spread to North Kordofan, and fully hit Khartoum in May.
White Nile state is probably the most affected state until now. OCHA reported that Governor Abdelhameed Kasha led a High Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) Containment Committee Meeting in El Duweim locality on 2 June. The meeting, attended by representatives of the state and the federal Health Ministries, WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef), other partners, and community-based organisations, discussed the current situation in all White Nile localities.
The governor requested the UN agencies to increase their support in the fields of health, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to contain the outbreak. He directed the governmental Water Corporation to improve the water quality in its water stations, and coordinate with Unicef the installation of new tanks and bladders from Oxfam in the affected villages.
In the past week, WHO carried out the training for Rapid Response Team (RRT) members on case management and infection prevention control for 65 participants from nine localities of White Nile state. At least 269 water samples were taken for water quality testing, of which 217 had the optimum dose of chlorine and were safe for use.
Four cleaning campaigns were carried out and 200.6 metric tonnes (MT) of waste was disposed, out of the targeted 363 MT. Food inspection activities were conducted in Kosti and Rabak localities, OCHA reported.
Cholera among South Sudanese refugees
The health authorities in South Sudan did acknowledge the spread of cholera in various parts of the country, and a vaccination campaign was started.
OCHA said in its bulletin that the Sudanese Ministry of Health has requested WHO to use the remaining 112,000 oral cholera vaccine for the South Sudanese refugees in South Kordofan. A campaign targeting 51,000 refugees is planned to be carried out on 8-10 June.
On Thursday, Sudan’s National Epidemiological Corporation issued a report on the spread of watery diarrhoea in White Nile state, North and South Kordofan, Khartoum, Sennar, River Nile state, and Northern State.
According to the report, the Sennar Hospital in eastern Sudan is currently treating 30 diarrhoea patients, of which 12 were admitted last week. The Abu Jubeiha hospital in South Kordofan identified six deaths, 12 new and six older cases.
In El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, 23 new cases were reported, in addition to 15 hospitalised patients. More than 40 cases were recorded in Sudan’s Northern State and Nile River state.
Three people died and 57 new cases were recorded in five localities in White Nile state, south of Khartoum. In the Sudanese capital, 24 patients died, and 287 were admitted in 10 hospitals last week.
El Fatih Omar El Sayed, member of the National Epidemiological Corporation told Radio Dabanga on Friday that the numbers were provided by the hospitals. He pointed out that the numbers are not comprehensive. “As for Khartoum, there is a discrepancy between the numbers reported by the federal and the state Ministries of Health.”
The medic strongly criticised the authorities’ continued silence on cholera, and warned for a further spreading of the epidemic.
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