In Chad, people remember of 2011 as the year when Cholera has resurged affecting more than 7000 people across the country, most of whom were the poorest and most vulnerable. At that time, the epidemic had reached emergency levels and the government had implemented a task force on disasters and crisis to manage it with the support of DFID. But core to solving the crisis in the long term is educating people about safe sanitation practices.
Dr. Elie Fokzia, Regional Health Supervisor at the hospital in Tandjile, explained that it’s a problem caused by a lack of hygiene. “People here need to have access to clean areas and potable water, and latrines,” he stressed. “The contamination is very quick – even flies can carry the bacteria that causes cholera.”
Disease of “dirty hands”
In Chad, cholera is called the disease of dirty hands. In Chad, only 1 in 2 people have access to safe drinking water, and only 1 in 5 (20%) per cent have access to improved sanitation.
“Cholera is real,” said Amon Boubakary, a community volunteer for the NGO Initiative for Development, Research and Social Health Integration (IDRISS). “We must remain vigilant. Cholera is on our doorstep, so we are carrying out multiple preventive actions,” he explained.
« The strategies we use for the prevention of cholera in this county are mass awareness campaigns, educational discussions and treatment with bleach and chlorine of wells and water points. We train, support and follow the community volunteers in the neighbourhood of Walia and Ngueli, » explains Abel Chembe, IDRISS Coordinator.
Partnering for success
UNICEF is working to support communities where the cases have occurred, and is also providing supplies, such as soap, water disinfection tablets, and hygiene kits to help prevent the disease from spreading further. As part of the efforts, information kits have been also produced and disseminated to help communities to apply best hygiene practices such as washing hands with soap before dealing with food and after using latrines.
Since the resurgence of cholera in the neighboring countries, UNICEF, with financial support of DFID – UK Department for International Development, has collaborated with its partners, to carry out awareness and prevention campaigns in all the border towns of the country. Cholera is a contagious disease that spreads very quickly under low hygienic conditions.
Funded by DFID, this initiative is part of the project entitled “Strengthening Humanitarian Preparedness in High Risk Countries,” which allows UNICEF and WFP to significantly expand their preparedness efforts and thus improve their response capacities. Additionally, the project promotes better cohesion and coordination of partner efforts in emergency response, as well as involving local communities.