Cholera is a recurring problem in parts of West Africa, but this year it has caused even more alarm than usual. An outbreak in Gao, northern Mali, along with elevated numbers of cases in other parts of the region, has drawn major concern. More background here.
One zone of concern is Niger, which has recently suffered a one-two punch of floods and cholera:
Floods in Niger have killed 81 people since July, the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs announced Thursday, adding cholera outbreaks have killed a further 81 people.
Cholera is spreading fast in at least four places, making 3,854 people sick and notably affecting the Tillaberi regions lying by the Niger river and close to the border with Mali, OCHA said.
In the provinces and in the capital, where the Niger river level is rising significantly, most of the people stricken by flooding are being housed mainly in schools, as well as mosques and public buildings.
OCHA’s Niger page is available in French here.
Some worry that the cholera epidemic in Niger could spread to neighboring Burkina Faso (French).
Meanwhile, some coastal West Africa countries are experiencing major cholera outbreaks. By late August, some 12,500 people had contracted cholera in Sierra Leone, and the disease had killed 224. The Financial Timeswrote, “The World Health Organisation estimates the number of cases could reach 32,000, with the outbreak peaking towards the end of September. The mortality rate of 1.8 per cent is almost double the emergency threshold.” This is Sierra Leone’s worst outbreak since 1994. Cholera has also struck in Guinea, with nearly 6,000 cases and over 100 deaths, in the worst outbreak since 2007.
The World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent are working to vaccinate people in affected countries and treat victims. But the epidemic, it seems, is still growing, adding to the tragedies West Africa is facing this year.