SOMALIA: Eleven dead as diarrhoea hits Sanaag region

Friday, April 18, 2008
At least 11 people have died in Dhahar district in the Sanaag region of northern Somalia, after an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), medical sources said.

"I can confirm 11 have died in Dhahar hospital since the outbreak," Abdulkadir Isse, a doctor at the hospital, said. At least 750 cases have been recorded since 10 March.

"Today [17 April], we have 400 patients in the hospital," he said. "We had 42 cases on 13 April, which was the highest for one day."

Most affected, apart from Dahar itself, were the villages of Barkadaha Qol, Bali Busle, Buran and Boda all in the same district.

However, Bashir Mohamed, country director for the NGO Horn Relief, said the situation had stabilised in the past few days. "We have been collecting people from the outlying areas for treatment," he added.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-Somalia) in a report last week said AWD was spreading to rural and pastoral settlements in the district.

Health staff, it added, were not able to deal with increasing cases due to a limited capacity of only one doctor and two nurses.

Isse said the Somaliland administration and Horn Relief had sent medicines and fuel. Eastern Sanaag is claimed by both the self-declared republic of Somaliland and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland.

The outbreak, according to Isse, started after people used water that had been standing a long time and was probably contaminated. The only borehole in the town had broken down earlier.

"The movement of pastoralists looking for water and pasture for their livestock during the current drought may also have contributed to the spread of the AWD," he added.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said he was encouraged by the latest positive political developments taking place regarding Somalia.

"I am particularly encouraged that President [Abdullahi] Yusuf emphasised that he is willing to do whatever it takes to promote peace and stability and former Speaker Sharif Hasan Shaykh Adan declared that the Somali problem cannot be solved militarily," Ould-Abdallah said in a statement on 16 April.

Source: IRIN