At least three refugees have lost their lives and 504 others treated for acute dehydration following an outbreak of Cholera diseases at Hagadera in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. There has also been an outbreak of measles in Kakuma refugee camp – with 20,000 refugees from Somalia having arrived just this year, adding to already strained resources across both camps, doctors from the International Rescue Committee health facilities are worried that the situation could worsen, making already poor living conditions even worse.
Mohamed El Montassir, IRC Kenya Country Director said, “Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps are overcrowded, and the infrastructure is strained making it difficult to keep pace with the expanding population in the camps. As conflict and the worst drought in 40 years in Somalia and flooding in South Sudan push even more people into the camps here in Kenya – resources are being stretched. There are insufficient latrines for the population sizes. People are having to defecate in the open and the rains and flooding are worsening an already precarious hygiene situation.
“The number of consultations of outpatient patients in the Dadaab hospital has increased over the last month – children are the most affected, including many who are suffering from malnutrition. Cholera causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting and can result in dehydration and death within hours if not detected and treated quickly. It is commonly spread through polluted water sources and contaminated food. What is most concerning is that children suffering from malnutrition are more likely to die of common diseases such as cholera as their bodies are too weakened to fight off the diseases. The IRC nutrition centre has recorded an increase of 147% in severe acute malnutrition cases between August to November 2022.”
Somalia ranks at number 1 and South Sudan at number 7 on IRC’s Watchlist 2023; a list of countries the IRC has identified as most at-risk of deteriorating humanitarian crises in the next year. As the crises in the region worsen, camps will continue to overstretch. To help ensure the diseases do not spread within the camp, IRC medical staff and community health workers have been treating various diseases, including cases of cholera and measles in the two camps, and are sensitising residents on proper hygiene and sanitation routines such as thoroughly washing hands with soap and clean water.
In Kakuma, the IRC is currently running a measles vaccination campaign for targeted groups, and has vaccinated 15,287 individuals, or 78% of the targeted population, as of December 5. Additionally, in Dadaab, teams are visiting the homes of patients admitted to the treatment centre and spraying their houses with chlorine solution to prevent further spread of the cholera disease. The IRC is currently the only provider of medical care in Hagadera Camp, where it runs a 140-bed hospital and two health posts. Whilst immediate measures are now being put in place to address the cholera and measles outbreak, IRC is calling upon donors to increase funding to ensure that proper investment is made on a longer-term basis to improve living conditions for refugees and prevent future outbreaks.
The IRC also sees the need to manage shared global risks such as disease outbreaks and follow Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response recommendation to establish a Global Health Threats Council to sustain political commitment to pandemic preparedness and response, identify gaps, monitor progress towards clear goals and advise on the allocation of additional resources pooled through a new Pandemic Fund.
Dadaab and Kakuma are home to some 501,828 refugees who have fled from extreme drought, climate change, and civil war.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee.