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Somalia cholera crisis worsens: 60 dead, 5,000 cases in three months.

Monday April 8, 2024


Mogadishu (HOL) —  Somalia's cholera outbreak has intensified, with 60 deaths and nearly 5,000 new cases reported in the last three months, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) revealed. The current surge brings the infection rate to a critical level, with a case fatality rate of 1.2 percent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the outbreak's escalation, noting that this year's number of cases is three times the average of the previous three years. The persistent spread of cholera has been a significant health concern in Somalia since 2017.

Women and children are particularly affected by the outbreak, with females accounting for 51 percent of the cases and children under five years old making up 59 percent. Among the reported cases, 62 percent are severe, indicating the serious nature of the health threat.

The spike in cholera cases has been attributed mainly to El Niño-induced floods in late 2023, which resulted in 118 deaths and displaced over 1.2 million people. This environmental disaster has exacerbated the already dire sanitation and water safety issues in Somalia.

UNICEF's report highlights the geographical spread of the outbreak across Somalia, with notable cases in cities and towns such as Mogadishu, Afgoye, and Baidoa. The outbreak's impact varies, with some areas experiencing prolonged transmission and others facing more recent surges.

The ongoing health crisis is primarily linked to inadequate access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities, further stressed by the recent flooding events.

In 2023, Somalia faced over 18,300 cholera cases, with 46 deaths reported, emphasizing the continued vulnerability of children under five to the disease. This demographic represented more than half of the affected individuals, underscoring the urgent need for effective public health interventions.

Earlier this week, the United Nations launched a global initiative to distribute over 1.2 million cholera test kits to Somalia and 13 other high-risk countries in the coming months.

The vaccine drive represents the largest global deployment of cholera tests, targeting nations currently grappling with severe outbreaks, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria, and Zambia.

Since 2021, there has been a global surge in cholera cases, with high fatality rates despite the existence of simple, effective, and affordable treatments. The unexpected surge has prompted unprecedented vaccine demand from the affected countries.


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