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Cameroon call for help to contain Cholera

Cameroon has asked for emergency aid cash to contain the cholera outbreak that has killed 170 people and infected more than 2,000.

Local media is calling the breakout, in the north of the country, its worst in 10 years.

And now Nigeria and other countries bordering Northern Cameroon are also at the risk of the disease spreading, the United Nations warned.

The central west African country’s government estimates it needs about £417,000 ($650,000) to hire disease, water and sanitation experts and health care workers on the ground to tackle cholera in the areas hardest hit.

"I think the need is clearly demonstrated...the health workers are doing the best they can but they are overwhelmed," Ora Musu Clemens-Hope from the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) told Reuters news service.

"Schools are being used as treatment centres because access to health care is not available but the schools re-open in three weeks, whereas the rainy season which favours the spread of cholera will continue for another three months," she added.

Government ministers, who are visiting the affected area, blame the regular outbreaks on the fact that 70 per cent of the people living there have no access to clean drinking water and only five per cent have latrines.

The government says it is considering a plan to build five new dams in the area to improve access to clean water for the five million plus people who live there.

Because north Cameroon borders on Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic, Unicef now fears that if the outbreak spreads anymore, it could have serious repercussions for women and children across the wider area.

"Our concern is that mobility in this region is very high and cholera is highly, highly contagious," said Ms Clemens-Hope.

Seven other countries in West and Central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin and Liberia have reported outbreaks of cholera since the start of the rainy season in May. The United Nations said: “four months into this outbreak we are facing the very real possibility of cholera spreading to neighbouring regions and countries."

Already, five aid agencies are rushing medical supplies including Cholera drugs, oral dehydration salts, hygiene kits, surgical gloves, family water kits and educational items.

The disease is caused by contaminated water, and many people with cholera suffer acute watery diarrhoea, which leads to severe dehydration.

If left untreated, it can kill quickly, possibly within hours, according to the World Health Organization. Up to 120,000 people die each year from cholera.

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