Cholera: MSF claims the scientific community for help in the worlds largest refugee camp

Funding cutoffs to organizations in Dadaab, Kenya, threaten the lives of 350 thousan people


Outbreak control in the site is difficult especially due to the poor sanitation conditions and rainfall

A cholera outbreak in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Northeast Kenya, threatens the lives of thousands of people. According to the Doctors Without Borders Organization (MSF), 1.2 thousand cholera cases were reported leading to 11 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak, in last November. The organization expects the scientific community to engage in more fundings.

“The scientific community can strongly contribute by lobbying for more fundings and resources for humanitarian aid, specifically in hygiene items and watter supply, sanitation and shelter”, explained the MSF vice-medical coordinator in Kenya, Dr. Rachel Kamau.

Dadaab is currently home for some 350 thousand people, and is the largest refugee camp in the world. For over 20 years it has been the shelter for generations of Somalians who evaded a country immersed in conflicts.

Controlling the epidemic is difficult especially due to the rainfall and terrible sanitation conditions in the camps, according to doctor Kamau. “Everyone is committed to enhance the camps conditions in order to contain the outbreak, but much still has to be done to improve the sanitation conditions”, she said. For MSF representatives in Kenya, sanitation is one of the main problems: the fields are crowded and clogged, without enough latrines. The average coverage of these is 45% in most fields, and open-air evacuation is common in some places.

According to the MSF, humanitarian assistance in the fields was reduced in the last years due to the increase in insecurity and reduction of fundings for several aid organizations who act there. Despite this, Dadaab is still safer than Somalia. In the Dadaab fields, refugees are 100% dependent of water, sanitation, food, shelter, education and health. Most services are not up to the standards, and quality and quantity depend on the availability of donated resources.

“Offering adequate and safe shelters is also a challenge. The lack of shelters result in the build of suspended structures known as kamoras”, made from wood and covered with tissues and screens, or even cardboard. Besides this, several food losses took place in the last two years”, said doctor Kamau.

“Every year, many surveys and assessments were conducted by several agencies in the refugee camps, especially regarding hygiene and sanitation, water, food and shelters. However, little was actually done according to the data.

The epidemic was officially declared in Dadaab in November 23, 2015. Historically, the county has lived with outbreaks due to the poor living conditions. These situations, however, have been quickly controlled. Controlling the risk factors in these fields have put the place at risk of a long and tough epidemic, according to Dr. Kamau.

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