United Nations agencies are helping authorities to respond to a diarrhoea outbreak in Afghanistan, where only about a quarter of the population has access to safe drinking water and 20 per cent of child deaths is attributed to the easily preventable disease.
According to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, the outbreak is located mainly in five provinces – Nangarhar, Nuristan, Laghman, Samangan and Faryab – with a few cases also reported in seven others. Twenty-two people have died out of the almost 4,000 cases reported so far.
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) says the authorities are managing the outbreak well and have taken all necessary steps.
In light of the current outbreak, Dr. [Rana Grabar] Kakar, [WHO Technical Officer, emphasized the need to ensure the use of safe drinking water by either boiling it or using chlorine tablets. People should also be careful about the foods that might become contaminated by bad water.
By washing hands with soap, families and communities can help reduce child mortality rates from diarrhoeal diseases by almost 50 per cent. This is one of the key messages being highlighted across the country as part of the observance of the first ever Global Handwashing Day, which is 15 October.
UNICEF is also assisting efforts to tackle the outbreak by digging wells, providing safe drinking water and distributing basic health kits, particularly in remote areas.