Working together to beat cholera

October 2012

A young girl collects water from a rubbish-filled water hole.
WHO/F. Thompson

A cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone has killed almost 300 people and affected more than 20 000. Without support to sustain and expand the response operation, as many as 32 000 cases could be expected this year.

WHO and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation have established a cholera control command centre to coordinate the response to what has turned into a national emergency. WHO has brought in experts in epidemiology, surveillance, case management, logistics, social mobilization, water and sanitation from other WHO offices as well as from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (ICDDR,B) in Bangladesh, and the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency.

This photo gallery displays images of the cholera response operation in New Town, a slum in Aberdeen Bay, Sierra Leone. The photos show the command centre planning, practical training given by ICDDR,B to local health workers and scientists and NGOs working together to get oral rehydration solution to people with cholera symptoms.

Much of the work being done by WHO and partners will help strengthen the country’s capacity to deal with disease outbreaks in future. However WHO’s Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, warns that there is an urgent need to invest in infrastructure to improve safe water supply and sanitation.

“Water and sanitation is going to remain a long-term challenge, particularly in the slums in Freetown where people are at high risk of diarrhoeal disease,” he says.

Read the photo story

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