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Sierra Leone Declares Cholera Outbreak A National Emergency

“Sierra Leone has declared a cholera outbreak that has left 176 people dead since the start of the year a national humanitarian emergency, officials said Friday,” AlertNet reports, adding, “Jonathan Abass Kamara, public relations officer for Sierra Leone’s health ministry, said the outbreak was the worst in the West Africa country’s history” (Akam, 8/17). “The decision was announced after a meeting between [the] government and officials from the World Health Organization and United Nation’s children agency UNICEF,” Agence France-Press/ReliefWeb writes, noting the government “has also set up a special task force to deal with the epidemic” (8/16).

“According to the [WHO], eight of the country’s 13 districts are affected by the outbreak, with the increase in the number of cases in the Western Area of particular concern,” Al Jazeera writes. “Poor water and sanitation systems give rise to the disease, an acute intestinal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food and water which causes acute diarrhea and vomiting and can kill in hours, according to the WHO,” the news service notes (8/16). “Water and sanitation specialists say unless these problems are addressed, cholera will continue to flourish both in Sierra Leone and throughout West Africa,” IRIN reports in an article examining sanitation issues in the region, where, “[b]y 15 August, 19,370 people had contracted cholera” since January (8/16).

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