SOMALIA: Hundreds of cases of AWD reported in Hiiraan region

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A number of people have died in the town of Beletweyne, the Hiiraan regional capital in central Somalia, following an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea, medical sources said on 17 March.

"At least three people have been confirmed dead in Beletweyne," said Nahashon Erupe, the programme coordinator for the International Medical Corps (IMC), in Beletweyne.

Erupe said 516 cases of AWD had been recorded between 16 February and 9 March. Most were from the neighbourhoods of Kooshin, Hawallaq and Hawataco in Beletweyne.

The IMC, he added, had set up a treatment centre on 12 March and suspected it was dealing with an outbreak of cholera - being the lead humanitarian agency for cholera response in the area.

A local humanitarian worker, who requested anonymity, said the situation in Beletweyne was stabilising but expressed concern for outlying villages.

In the village of Omaad, 50km north of Beletweyne, four people in a family of 12 were reported to have died of AWD. "Unfortunately, we are having difficulties in accessing some of these villages due to lack of transport or insecurity or both," the aid worker said.

The outbreak, he added, had resulted from the poor condition of the water drawn from wells.

Erupe said water wells in the town were being chlorinated, adding that the situation was under control. "There are enough medicines and other materials to handle the outbreak on the ground," he said.

Source: IRIN