AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Alarm and concern about an uncontrollable cholera epidemic

Monday, 30 July 2012

Freetown (Agenzia Fides) - Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, is now the center of a cholera epidemic, after the first confirmed case was found in the north of the country in February. On 18 July, the first reported case was from Marbella, a slum near the center of the city, where a large number of people meet continuously in the market that is open 24 hours a day.
According to the local Ministry of Health Care, every day there are 40 new cases in the area. In Freetown and in the neighboring western area, 410 cases and 9 deaths have been reported. The mortality rate is 2% and it is quite worrying, this is the worst recorded outbreak in the country after that of 2007.
The aim of the Ministry now is to contain the disease and clean up the environment. Since January exactly 4.249 cases and 76 deaths from cholera have been recorded in Sierra Leone. Out of a population of 6 million, 4,000 cases are a huge sum. Experts fear that the peak of the pandemic has not yet been reached. The government in the capital has created three emergency centers to handle new cases and all the clinics are providing free treatment for cholera. However in Marbella, a high population density area, due to impassable roads and crowding of the market, the inhabitants have no access to sanitation and housing are all very close to each other. This situation is aggravated by precarious hygiene, lack of clean water and poor management of food in the market area, which are all risk factors for the proliferation of the epidemic. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 30/07/2012)