UNICEF responds to cholera outbreak in Ivory Coast

Following the confirmation of 10 cases of cholera in the Koumassi district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, UNICEF has provided medical supplies to local health authorities to treat up to 1,000 patients infected with the disease and kits with soap, chlorine, and water treatment products for 400,000 people. Cholera is a water-borne disease causing acute diarrhea; it can be lethal if not treated within the first few hours.

NEW YORK (June 7, 2011)— Following the confirmation of 10 cases of cholera in the Koumassi district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, UNICEF has provided medical supplies to local health authorities to treat up to 1,000 patients infected with the disease and kits with soap, chlorine, and water treatment products for 400,000 people.

In order to reduce the risk of a widespread cholera epidemic, UNICEF, together with governmental and international partners, has been working over the past several weeks to ensure access to clean water for 250,000 people in areas across the country where the distribution network is disrupted. However, the response has yet to cover all the needs.

"In the midst of the rainy season, the resurgence of cholera requires concerted nationwide, as well as local, actions to restore access to potable water across the country in order to avoid epidemics of which women and children would be the first victims," said Hervé Ludovic de Lys, UNICEF Representative in Ivory Coast.

In Daloa, where normal water distribution has been interrupted for more than a week, 15 water bladders are being installed to provide enough water to 100,000 people daily. In Bouaflé, four bladders were also installed to provide water to 6,000 people. These installations provide temporary relief while the water distribution company SODECI is repairing the water supply network in these two cities.

In western Ivory Coast, where communities are hosting large number of people displaced by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, local capacities to provide water have been exceeded. Over the past several weeks UNICEF and partners have provided enough water for 2,000 displaced people in the Danané II site and for 5,000 people in Duékoué to supplement the water network and reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.

In addition, UNICEF is promoting good hygiene practices, distributing supplies to treat cholera and water purification tablets for 240,000 people, and has launched a public awareness campaign on community radio stations across the country to inform the population about household water purification and other critical hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap.

Cholera is a water-borne disease causing acute diarrhea; it can be lethal if not treated within the first few hours.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian aid organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 22,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. .

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, (m) 646.428.5010, smasur@unicefusa.org

Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org