Tag Archives: MSF

Pakistan, NWFP: Militants cause gastroenteritis in Swat Valley

Militants blow up a an electricity sub-station, causing tube wells and the water supply to be disrupted; people resort to using dirty water and then fall sick. This, in a nutshell, is what has happened in parts of Swat Valley in North West Frontier Province.

Over 2,000 {people] have visited [the Saidu Teaching Hospital (STH) in Swat District hospital] since 2 October [2008], amid rumours that cholera had erupted in Saidu Sharif, capital of Swat District, about 3km from the city of Mingora, where the grid station was blown up by militants.


“It’s not cholera,” said Mohammad Khan, medical superintendent at the 500-bed STH near the River Swat. “It is acute watery diarrhoea which is also known as gastroenteritis and the media is misinforming people,” he said. […] WHO has sent cholera kits (also used for treating gastroenteritis) for 2,000 patients and samples are being collected to rule out cholera.


“People think because they are using running water, it is clean. What they fail to understand is that they wash their clothes, bathe and even defecate in the same water they use for drinking. Even untreated sewage finds its way into these streams,” said Owais Yaqoob, a doctor at STH.


The executive district health officer in Swat, Bakht Jamal […] is mobilising the mosques, and vehicles are making announcements through loudspeakers at street corners telling people to boil water and wash hands with soap before eating, and after visiting toilets. Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been working in the conflict zones of Matta and Kabal […] has hired three generators which are running tube wells on a rotational basis in Mingora city. WHO teams are also distributing chlorine tablets in Mingora.

Source: IRIN, 15 Oct 2008


Guinea-Bissau: Cholera epidemic out of control

DAKAR, 17 September 2008 (IRIN) – With 6,461 cholera cases and 122 deaths, experts say the cholera epidemic in Guinea-Bissau is out of control. The number of reported cases has doubled in the past three weeks. All of the country’s 11 health regions have been affected.


According to Franck Bouvet, UNICEF’s regional water, hygiene and sanitation specialist, international agencies over-estimated the government’s ability to coordinate the battle against the epidemic, costing valuable time.

Emergency response teams from the UN and government, MSF-Spain, French NGO Médecins du Monde and the Guinea Bissau Red Cross, are trying to make up for lost time.


UNICEF is disinfecting city wells and other water sources with bleach or chlorine in the capital with local organisation Aqua Guinea-Bissau (AGB) and volunteer sanitation brigades. [T]he is working with the Guinea Bissau Red Cross and UNICEF to go from door-to-door to give hygiene tips to avoid cholera.


The US-based Centre for Disease Control […] is currently carrying out a [nation-wide comprehensive] study […] to find out how the infection is spread, [and] its source.

“There are behavioural, climactic, and socio-economic determinants to the cause and spread of cholera and it can be hard to identify exactly why it appears when and how. However, we know that key factors increase the risk of an outbreak: inappropriate hygiene behaviour, lack of drinking water, and inadequate sanitation,” Bouvet said.

Source: IRIN, 17 Sep 2008