Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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MSF’s response to cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia: Treating patients, strengthening healthcare, and providing lifesaving support

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By our staff reporter

In Ethiopia, MSF teams have been working since July to respond to cholera outbreaks across the country. Collaborating closely with the respective Regional Health Bureaus, they have treated nearly 1,000 individuals affected by cholera in the regions of Amhara, Afar, and Somali.

In Amhara, MSF offered vital support to the Health Bureau during a cholera outbreak in West Gondar that began in mid-July. Subsequently, on August 24, another outbreak was confirmed in Kumar Refugee Camp (KRC). The conflict in Sudan triggered a significant influx of refugees into West Gondar, with approximately 10,000 people finding shelter in KRC under dire conditions.

Through five intensive weeks of intervention, MSF treated a total of 470 cholera patients, successfully reducing the number of cases to zero within three weeks. To further prevent the spread of the disease, MSF administered oral cholera vaccines to all refugees in KRC, as well as neighboring host communities supported by the Ministry of Health. Additionally, emergency latrines were constructed in the camp to improve sanitation access, and medical supplies were donated to the Zonal Health Bureau. The remarkable success of this intervention owes much to the dedication and hard work of the refugee community, who served as health promoters and actively supported water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) activities day and night.

In Afar, the cholera outbreak was aggravated by insufficient potable water supply, inadequate sanitation facilities, and poor living conditions, impacting seven woredas in the region by mid-September. MSF stepped in to assist Dubti General Hospital by establishing a Cholera Treatment Center, facilitating safe patient and staff management. MSF’s support encompassed case management, infection prevention and control measures, water and sanitation infrastructure improvements, and health promotion activities. Between September 12 and October 27, MSF successfully treated 431 people with cholera. The Cholera Treatment Center was handed over to the Regional Health Bureau at the end of October, ensuring the continuity of care.

Currently, MSF is actively responding to a cholera outbreak in Jijjiga, Somali region, which began in mid-September. MSF teams are collaborating with the Regional Health Bureau and the World Health Organization (WHO) to build capacity, provide essential donations, establish a Cholera Treatment Center, and strengthen surveillance efforts.

Through their unwavering dedication, MSF teams in Ethiopia are making a significant impact in combating cholera outbreaks, saving lives, and bolstering healthcare infrastructure.

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