Children in DRC facing worst cholera outbreak in 6 years: UNICEF

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A spike in conflict and displacement in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is pushing children into the worst cholera crisis since 2017, said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Friday, reported Xinhua.

Across the country, there were at least 31,342 suspected or confirmed cholera cases and 230 deaths in the first seven months of the year, many of them children. The worst affected province, North Kivu, saw more than 21,400 confirmed or suspected cases, including more than 8,000 children under 5 years, said UNICEF, citing official figures.

In the whole year of 2022, there were 5,120 total cases, with 1,200 for children under 5 years in North Kivu.

The DRC has the worst displacement crisis in Africa, with more than 6.3 million displaced people across the country. It has seen more than 1.5 million people, including over 800,000 children, displaced in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri since January 2023, said UNICEF.

The displacement camps are generally overcrowded and overstretched, making them ripe for cholera transmission. In-depth investigations by the Ministry of Public Health in May and June in households with cholera cases in North Kivu's four biggest hot spots found that between 62 percent and 99 percent of cholera-affected households were families that had been displaced this year. The survey also showed that families living in cholera hot spots face multiple other health risks, including malnutrition and lack of access to prenatal care and vaccinations, it said.

UNICEF is calling for 62.5 million U.S. dollars to scale up its prevention and response activities to the cholera and water, sanitation and hygiene crisis over the next five months, which seeks to reach 1.8 million people, including 1 million children. Currently, the appeal is just 9 percent funded.

  •  DRC
  •  Cholera outbreak


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