19 April 2013: Since 19 November 2012, a cholera epidemic has ravaged the city of Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo. Prior to the epidemic, heavy rains destroyed some 251 homes, damaged basic infrastructure and claimed the lives of four people. Nearly 1,000 people became internally displaced and many suffered outbreaks of diarrhoea – the main symptom of cholera. The disease quickly spread throughout Pointe Noire, constituting a serious risk to the population.
Pointe Noire has grown significantly in population size since the early 1980s, when thousands of people flocked to the city due to the booming oil industry. The water supply could not keep pace with the rapidly increasing population, causing severe unsanitary conditions that have not been significantly improved. Due to poor sanitation, limited access to drinking water and unhygienic food markets, the current cholera epidemic spread very quickly. As of 19 March 2013, a total of 471 cases of cholera and 12 deaths from cholera have been recorded.
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided a rapid response grant of US$751,772 to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which will jointly address the cholera epidemic. More than 917,662 people should be helped through the allocation.
With an allocation of $328,659, WHO will control of the cholera epidemic by strengthening the epidemiological surveillance. WHO will also provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, including emergency latrines, disinfection of water points and general health promotion.
UNICEF has received $423,113 to strengthen the capacity of health services based on epidemiological surveillance and capacity building among health workers and community volunteers in the Congo.