Guinea Bissau: UNICEF provides support to fight cholera epidemic

Sunday, August 17, 2008

UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health of Guinea Bissau in fighting a cholera epidemic that has quickly spread across the country, and is particularly affecting the capital Bissau and the regions of Quinara, in the south, and Biombo, in the west.
In addition to mobilising US$ 750,000 since the epidemic began in mid-May, UNICEF has assisted with a team of national and international experts specialised in emergency coordination, water and sanitation, social communication, public health and supply.

“The situation is grave and calls for urgent and critical engagement of all parties,” said Silvia Luciani, UNICEF Representative for Guinea Bissau. “We must step up our efforts to ensure that all emergency funds and supplies made available are utilised immediately and effectively to save human lives and put a stop to the epidemic.”
According to data from the Epidemiological Services of the health ministry, as of 14 August 2,018 persons had contracted cholera, of whom 41 have died.

UNICEF’s efforts to combat the deadly disease are part of Guinea Bissau’s national response plan to the cholera epidemic. One of many partners working under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF is responsible for supporting the disinfection of Bissau’s water system and traditional wells in the capital and the most affected regions; management of potentially contaminating human waste; distribution of hygiene and sanitation products (soap, bleach, sodium hypochlorite, buckets, etc.); and the production, distribution, and training required to communicate prevention messages to the broader population.

Communication materials are, indeed, a vital tool in combating the disease, and UNICEF has conducted a rapid assessment to  better understand the population’s awareness of cholera and how it is spread. Based on the results of this assessment, UNICEF has supported the production and distribution of messages that emphasize disease prevention and proper hygiene. These messages are being spread with the support of religious and traditional leaders, and UNICEF is appealing to the population of Guinea Bissau to respect the recommendations on hygiene practices necessary to prevent cholera.

In addition to its current response to the epidemic, UNICEF emphasizes the importance of developing a longer term national strategy to prevent this type of crisis from happening again.
UNICEF works in over 150 countries and territories all over the world to help children survival and development. First provider of vaccines to developing countries, UNICEF supports health and nutrition of children, access to potable water and sanitation, quality basic education for boys and girls, and protection of children against violence, all types of exploitation and HIV/AIDS. UNICEF is financed entirely by voluntary contributions of individuals, foundations, enterprises and governments.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.