A cholera epidemic has been spreading rapidly across Guinea-Bissau. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is working
with that country's Ministry of Health and has helped a team of national and global experts in emergency coordination, water and sanitation and communication, among other fields.
“The situation is grave and calls for urgent and critical engagement of all parties,” said Silvia Luciani, UNICEF Representative for Guinea Bissau. “We must step up our efforts to ensure that all emergency funds and supplies made available are utilized immediately and effectively to save human lives and put a stop to the epidemic.”
As of 14 August, over 2,000 people had contracted cholera, with 41 people having lost their lives, according to the Health Ministry.
UNICEF is one of the many partners working with the Government and has taken a leading role to disinfect Guinea-Bissau's water system and wells in the capital Bissau and the most affected regions in the south and west, managing potentially contaminating human waste, and distributing hygiene and sanitation products such as soap and bleach.
The agency is also spreading the message with the support of religious and traditional leaders calling on the population to respect recommendations on disease prevention and proper hygiene to prevent the spread of cholera.
UNICEF stresses the importance of creating a longer-term strategy to ensure that such a crisis never occurs again.