UNICEF
UNICEF

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported Tuesday that children under five make up 20 percent of cholera fatalities in an outbreak which has killed 32 people so far in the South Sudanese cities of Juba and Bor.

UNICEF
UNICEF

UNICEF highlighted the importance of education to stem the outbreak which has resulted in over 700 reported cholera cases to date, against the backdrop of a civil war which has been raging since December 2013.

In an effort to control the disease, some 1,340 students and 30 teachers have already been provided with life-saving information, and UNICEF indicated that it hoped to reach 150 schools.

“Cholera is a deadly disease that inordinately affects young children,” said UNICEF representative in South Sudan Jonathan Veitch, adding that one of the most effective ways to control the outbreak is to equip students with vital information and tools to protect both themselves and their families.

This includes educating teachers and students on the promotion of hygiene, such as hand washing with soap and safely handling food and water, as well as promoting safe defecation practices.

In its effort to stem the outbreak, UNICEF is also distributing soap to communities, strengthening health facilities, conducting vaccination campaigns, raising awareness in vulnerable communities while enhancing detection capacities by training volunteers, teachers and religious leaders.

These measures are particularly important as UNICEF warned that if the disease spreads to conflict-affected areas, the lack of functioning health facilities could lead to a devastating loss of life.
Some 184 health facilities have either been closed or destroyed because of the ongoing conflict which has killed thousands and displaced over 2.2 million people.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cholera, which is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, kills 100,000 to 120,000 people every year.

Though an estimated 75 percent of people who are infected with Vibrio cholera do not develop any symptoms, the bacteria remains present in their faeces for up to two weeks and can be shed back into the environment, putting others at risk of infection. Enditem

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