Diarrhea :: UN-led campaign against diarrhea outbreaks in Sudan brings results

A campaign led by the United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF) to prevent major outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea in Sudan during the rainy season this year is paying dividends, with the number of cases of the sometimes fatal condition in the north of the country almost 90 per cent below last year?s figures.

Less than 800 cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been reported in two states in northern Sudan since April, despite the presence of heavy floods across the nation in recent weeks, UNICEF reported today.

This compares to last year?s devastating outbreak, when 6,000 cases of diarrhoea were reported in nine Sudanese states during the equivalent period and at least 900 people died.

UNICEF officials in Sudan said the pre-positioning of vital medical supplies in anticipation of outbreaks has made an important difference this year, when floods across wide swathes of the country have affected an estimated 365,000 people.

Together with its partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the agency has in place more than 1,200 drug kits for primary health care centres, 422,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts, 33,000 bottles of antibiotics and 17,000 bottles of intravenous fluids.

The threat posed by contaminated water sources and flooded latrines has also led UNICEF to ensure there are enough water chlorination supplies to support water treatment for 1.6 million people.

UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban said public information and awareness has also been critical to the drastically reduced number of diarrhoea cases.

?Since May, UNICEF has supported community mobilization around health and hygiene promotion, the production and dissemination of information materials to over half a million people, and the airing of radio and television spots and programmes reaching more than 10 million people across the north of Sudan,? he said.

The agency will step up its efforts in Gedaref state in the northeast, which has shown the highest incidence of both diarrhoea and cholera.

As flood relief operations continue in Sudan, UNICEF is also tackling another killer disease that is often more prevalent during and after heavy rains: malaria. So far this year, the agency has supplied 520,000 bed nets treated with insecticide and 700,000 doses of anti-malaria treatments.

UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the UN Joint Logistics Centre and many NGOs, have been working together to deliver relief supplies and support to those Sudanese hit hardest by the floods, which are unusually heavy this year.

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