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Cyclone Idai
Nearly a month after Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, officials and civilians are working to clean up the disaster zone. The Category 2 storm first hit near the city of Beira, an important port in Southern Africa, on March 14th and 15th. Winds during this period exceeded 105 miles per hour. The northern provinces of Mozambique are now beginning the reconstruction process.

The deadly storm left 603 people dead, though officials suspect many more unidentified victims washed out to sea. Additionally, Cyclone Idai destroyed 110,000 homes, wiped away entire towns and left rich farmland waterlogged. The people of the northern provinces depend on food from this farmland for both survival and business.

An Uphill Battle Against Poor Infrastructure

Mozambique struggles with a lack of access to quality healthcare, education and infrastructure. As a result, the nation is ranked 218 out of 223 countries with an average life expectancy of 51.4 years. Their impoverished status makes it difficult for them to recover from natural disasters.

The country requires aid from outside sources to rebuild in the north where Cyclone Idai first met the coastline. The United Nations’ fundraising appeal to cover the initial costs totaled $282 million USD. Hospitals-in-boxes are being transported by boat, food is being dropped from planes and 900,000 cholera vaccines have recently arrived in Beira. The vaccines are being distributed in the north as part of an effort led by Doctors Without Borders.

The Added Challenge of Cholera

Despite vaccination efforts, the cholera outbreak is continuing to spread because people still do not have access to clean water in the wake of Cyclone Idai. Residents of Biera are facing the brunt of the outbreak due to poor water infrastructure and overcrowding. Many of these residents have been moved to displacement camps with equally poor conditions.

There are 3100 confirmed cases of cholera as of March 27th, with six deaths. Health volunteers and officials in Beira are hoping that cholera cases will fall in response to the restoration of running water. However, this running water can only reach 60 percent of the city’s residents.

Dr. Katrin Duget from the Pioneros Centre explains that the use of antiretroviral drugs is a good solution for the time being. Well-equipped health facilities are heading distribution efforts.

A Nation Moving Forward

Many civilians will struggle to move forward, as they have to work to rebuild entire communities and homes. For now, it is important to focus on longer-term solutions such as an investment in vaccines. Cholera can also be treated by simple rehydration, but it must come quickly because the disease can kill within hours. The water filters being installed by the UN are helping communities gain access to clean water to hydrate properly.

In the months after disasters such as Cyclone Idai, it is important to look at proactive measures that can be taken before another crisis strikes. These include food education programs as well as vaccinations which can help civilians survive during a lack of widespread resources.

Meredith Breda
Photo: Flickr

Cholera Crisis of 2018Cholera is a disease that is both preventable and treatable, though it can be fatal under the worst of circumstances. It typically affects the most destitute areas of the globe where sanitation practices are weakest. Random outbreaks can and do occur across all continents, however. The greatest challenge to diminishing the effects of a cholera crisis is that it can spread quickly among populations with a lack of adequate hygiene measures, proper vaccination or isolated and contained care centers.

Disease Basics

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cholera is caused by toxigenic Vibrio Cholerae, which leads to the acute bacterial intestinal infection. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and, in severe cases, collapse and shock. Fatalities occur in approximately 25 to 50 percent of all cases. While cholera is uncommon in the U.S. and other developed nations, cases have been increasing around the world since 2005. The CDC classifies the magnitude of cholera outbreaks as a pandemic that has persisted for over four decades in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Saltwater is the natural source where Vibrio Cholerae originates and may be passed on to humans by ingesting anything from infected water, like shellfish, crab and shrimp. The risk is heightened when any of these foods are undercooked or consumed raw. Cholera can be passed through the drinking water supply as well, which is a common form of transmission.

The Cholera Crisis

A cholera crisis occurred in February 2018 in Uganda, resulting in 700 reported cases and 27 deaths. In Malawi, an outbreak in April affected 893 individuals and caused 30 deaths. A recent outbreak has occurred in Yemen as well. The total number of cholera cases in Yemen over the past year is estimated to be 1,090,280 with 2,275 deaths. This means one out of every five people infected with cholera died last year in Yemen. In addition, Haiti has reported 432 cases of cholera this past year, with four deaths resulting from the disease.

Progressive Efforts

While contemplating the statistics shared in regard to the cholera crisis, it is important to think about what solutions are available to prevent this destructive disease from spreading and to know what actions are being taken to assist those who are suffering. The most obvious solution to a cholera crisis is to offer aid in the form of clean water solutions so potable water can be readily available to all.

The U.N. has made remarkable progress in its efforts to make clean water available to everyone around the world. More specifically, its efforts are known as the Water for Life International Decade for Action and took place during 2005-2015. As a result of this initiative, 1.3 billion people were provided with clean drinking water. It is estimated that there are still 2.5 billion people who drink contaminated water.

Improved sanitation practices and adequate facilities is also a dire need. The U.N. reports that there are currently 2.3 billion people worldwide who are without access to basic sanitation facilities, such as toilets. The two concurrent issues of lack of sanitation facilities and a lack of clean water interplay to cause illness amongst many in the form of communicable diseases passed through to the residents of poverty-stricken areas.  As a result, approximately 1.5 million children die from related illnesses.

Efforts to help can generate a return on investment for those in developed nations. Research has shown that every U.S. dollar spent on improved sanitation generates a return of $9. World Water Day on March 22 and World Toilet Day on Nov. 19 are international observance days set aside to raise awareness of these issues.

– Bridget Rice

Photo: Flickr

cholera crisisThe Eastern and Southern countries in Africa face a serious cholera epidemic. This epidemic displays the lack of public sanitation as well as neglect from the government that many African countries face.

Cholera

Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused from an infection of the intestine with bacteria called vibriocholerae. The symptoms of the illness include: diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, and such loss of body fluid can lead to dehydration and sometimes shock. Oftentimes, death can occur within only hours without treatment.

Since the start of the New Year, there have been over 2,009 cases and 22 deaths in the countries in Africa facing the cholera crisis. Zambia, one of the countries in southern Africa, faced the worst of the epidemic, with more than 74 deaths since October of 2017. The main area where Zambia’s impacted with cholera is in their capital, Lusaka. The government banned street food from vendors in the capital to reduce the number of cases, but in return, caused violent protests from the vendors.

Cholera Causes

The government, along with the World Health Organization, states the cause of the cholera crisis is poor waste management and lack of personal hygiene. These factors cause the contamination of food and water, which in turn, can spark the epidemic.

To help with the cholera crisis, the government has sent in the army to control measures, clean the markets and unblock drains. An oral vaccine program was also launched with the goal of immunizing one million people, and since its implementation, the number of cholera cases have dropped.

Cholera Effects

The effects of the cholera crisis have not just been deadly, but also have forced public places to close. Many schools, churches and workspaces are deferred until they can contain the outbreak. This impediment puts citizen jobs, payment and education on hold.

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests the prevention of cholera consists of clean water, sanitation and reminding communities of basic hygiene behaviors that includes hand washing with soap after using the bathroom, before eating or touching food.

The WHO also suggests there should be media regarding health education messages for these reminders, and the implementation of routine antibiotic and immunizations if available.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr