Cholera outbreak kills 14 in the Central African Republic

The United Nations Children's Fund has distributed emergency supplies and dispatched experts to the Central African Republic to deal with an outbreak of cholera that has claimed the lives of 14 people.

The outbreak is concentrated on villages along the Ubanugi River approximately 80 kilometers south of the capital city of Bangui. The agency has sent specialists teams in sanitation and water, communications and health to the CAR and has started to hand out cholera kits, which include intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts and antibiotics.

“The location poses particular challenges as the affected region contains some 500 villages spread along the river and in forest clearings,” Tanya Chapuisat, UNICEF’s representative in the CAR, said.

Chapuisat said that UNICEF aims to reach as many as 60,000 people in the affected region over the next few days.

“It is our responsibility to make sure that we do everything possible to ensure that children and families are protected,” Chapuisat said. “Because CAR has not had cholera cases in many years, people do not necessarily know what basic measures to take to protect themselves. Getting the information out to the people about how they as individuals and communities can prevent the spread of cholera is critical.”

Youth groups have been mobilized to go from village to village passing out flyers containing simple advice about preventive measures. CAR officials confirmed the outbreak last Friday and set up a crisis coordination committee with UNICEF, the World Health Organization and non-governmental organizations, including Action Contre la Faim and Médecins Sans Frontières.