The government of Sierra Leone is appealing to the international community to help stem an outbreak of cholera in the African nation, which has become a national emergency.
The funding amount has yet to be determined, but President Ernest Bai Koroma has set up a task force to prepare the needed budget, The Associated Press reports.
Cholera cases surged in July, just five months after an epidemic spread in the districts of Port Loko, Puhehun and Kambia, where a new outbreak reportedly started. With 176 deaths and 13,000 people infected — and maybe more — the country’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation declared the disease an epidemic in eight of Sierra Leone’s 14 districts.
There is fear the epidemic will continue to plague the country — and fast — through August, the middle of the rainy season and the “wettest month” in Sierra Leone, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies noted in its emergency appeal.
Heavy rains and poor and insufficient sanitation facilities have led to the contamination of water sources, IFRC notes.
The organization has appealed for 1.15 million Swiss francs ($1.13 million) to support the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society’s response to the epidemic. The money will be used to distribute educational materials to boost awareness of the epidemic, hold performances for hygiene promotion, chlorinate wells, rehabilitate water sources and build latrines.
The Red Cross has also voiced the need for better coordination among nongovernmental organizations responding to the crisis and for contingency plans in districts that are at “high-risk” of being affected. A “large number” of NGOs in the country do not attend coordination meetings held by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, according to the IFRC.
A change in hygiene behavior, matched with the provision of improved sanitation and water sources, are needed to prevent future cholera epidemics, IFRC notes.
Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.