Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
CASES of the deadly water-borne disease cholera are on the rise in Guinea-Bissau, reports international children’s charity Plan.
The northern and southern regions have been worst affected. More than 2,000 cases have been reported, resulting in 20 deaths.
The country is prone to cholera outbreaks, but the disease is easy to prevent by improving access to clean water and basic hygiene.
Before the outbreak was officially declared, Plan began educating partner communities about the risks.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to cholera,” says Aruna Mane, programme support manager for Plan Guinea.
“Prevention of this killer disease is a factor in the design of Plan’s existing programmes. Plan’s partner communities remain the only ones not to report cholera cases to date.”
Plan Guinea proactively worked with regional health authorities, promoting simple messages including handwashing before eating and after using the toilet.
Messages were broadcast using community radio stations. Door-to-door promotion also helped raise awareness of the risks of the disease.
Plan supported community training on cholera, teaching techniques to disinfect wells and drinking water.
The charity also provided prevention and hygiene materials and medicines to regional health authorities to help respond to cholera cases.
This pre-emptive response has had a positive impact. Plan is coordinating its awareness-raising with the Ministry of Health and WHO to reach the most communities.
For more information on Plan’s work visit www.plan-uk.org