International Medical Corps Fight Cholera In Cameroon
International Medical Corps is aiding village communities in Cameroon to recuperate from the cholera attack to construct water pumps, toilets and wells to guarantee long standing availability of potable drinking water and hygiene.
In September 2010 the number of registered cases of cholera had crossed serious levels in Cameroon as the country tried its best to battle against one of its biggest health calamities ever in the past two decades.
After securing a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Medical Corps has been putting in place an elaborate program to control the epidemic as well as deploy far reaching and sustainable steps to ensure that the disease does not recur too often in the country.
Cholera is a stomach infection that is caused by taking in water or food that is infested with the bacterium, vibrio cholerae. Cholera outbreaks are common occurrences in regions where the water and food are contaminated and where hygienic practices and sanitation are not up to the mark.
Around five to ten percent of who are attacked by the bacteria indicates symptoms like excessively watery diarrhea that can cause extreme dehydration, which can even lead to loss of life if not given proper medical attention immediately. If the infection is left unattended, the probability of death can be as high as 30-50 percent.
However, the best way to treat the disease is quite simple and is just to ensure that the body remains hydrated by taking in large amounts of water to replenish the loss and to consume rehydration salts.
From May 2010 to November 2010, Cameroon had registered more than 6,900 cumulative cases of cholera and 455 loss of lives from the disease.
Twenty-two out of the 28 districts of the Far North regions and five out of 15 North regions of Cameroon reported cholera cases. By the start of 2011, the latest attack had more or less come under control and International Medical Corps’ in the country moved their focus to deploying measure to prevent the recurrence of the disease by sensitizing people on the importance of hygiene and implementing measure to provide potable water, sanitation and hygiene.
They also set up emergency steps to ensure that there was proper emergency response planning to guarantee national preparedness.
Today, International Medical Corps is implementing programs to provide 23,000 inhabitants of Cameroon’s Mokolo sub-division availability of clean and uncontaminated drinking water as well as a clean and sanitized environment to live.
Prior to the entry of International Medical Corps’, residents of partner communities had to travel upto three kilometers to get clean drinking water.
Moreover, the water pumps in the region were in a sad state of repair and heavily prone to contamination with no surety of year round availability of water.
International Medical Corps is now working in tandem with the rural community to construct water pumps, toilets and nine new wells to that they will have unlimited access to safe drinking water and sanitation in a long time to come.
Locals have been sensitized on how to construct, use, and maintain wells and hand pumps. In addition, International Medical Corps will also educate twelve water pump technicians and aid nine village water/sanitation management committees.
The biggest problem that Cameroon faces is the exposure of drinking water to fecal bacteria what with lack of toilets in the villages of the country making open defecation a very common practice in the country.
International Medical Corps has keyed in on eight schools and 200 households which do not have latrines and plan to build latrines for them in the coming year.
International Medical Corps is using the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) technique to improve the information and know how that the local population has about sanitation and hygiene and is promoting communities to take steps for proper sanitation.
Fifty community health volunteers, who are trained in prevention and control, and 50 health clubs, proficient in good hygiene practices, will be brought in to promote the sustainable sanitation and hygiene practices that is most important in protecting the villages from the fatal disease.
International Medical Corps has been actively involved in Cameroon since 2008, providing aid for refugees from the Central African Republic as well as for local villages.