SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Burundi refugees' deaths linked to diarrhea outbreak in Tanzania

Seven Burundi refugee deaths from diarrhea outbreak in Tanzania
Seven Burundi refugee deaths from diarrhea outbreak in Tanzania | Courtesy of
Seven Burundi refugees recently died from a diarrhea outbreak in a refugee camp in Tanzania, prompting the United Nations refugee agency to take active steps against the illness.

Two samples have received a preliminary diagnosis as cholera, and health experts are waiting for a reference laboratory to provide official confirmation. An additional 77 Burundian refugees are receiving diarrhea treatments in Nyarugusu, which is the western province of Kigoma. Approximately 300 people in Kagunga, nearby the border of Tanzania, are also being treated.

Over 20,000 refugees have moved into the Tanzania camp. Community leaders are already taking proactive steps to improve hygiene, sanitation, early detections and educational campaigns to prevent any diseases from spreading.

The outbreak causes severe, watery diarrhea and has spread throughout the most recent refugees to arrive from Burundi in Tanzania. It is spreading quickly, as the seven most recent deaths have occured since last Wednesday.

The agency has started to deliver medication to the refugee camps because there are not enough local supplies.

“(Our) priority is to work with the Ministry of Health and international partners to prepare for the worst and quickly establish a cholera treatment center in Kagunga,” Joyce Mends-Cole with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Tanzania said. “There is only a small dispensary in that village, lacking required diagnostics and treatment modalities -- including medication.”