International Medical Corps received a $700,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to respond to a deadly cholera outbreak in northern Cameroon. The response will target the districts of Koza, Mogode, and Mokolo, where half of the reported cases have occurred, and will provide comprehensive cholera services, including treatment, surveillance, water and sanitation, infection control, social mobilization and prevention.
“A rapid medical response is essential in containing cholera and preventing further loss of life,” says Nancy Aossey, President and CEO of International Medical Corps. “This timely grant from the Gates Foundation will allow us to respond quickly and help us lay the foundation for preventing further outbreaks in northern Cameroon.”
The cholera outbreak is the worst to hit Cameroon in 20 years, according to UNICEF. The number of cases, and deaths, continues to rise, with the outbreak now having spread to 22 of the 28 districts in the Far North Region and 5 of the 15 in the North Region. Nearly 7,000 cases have been reported so far, with a fatality rate of more than 7 percent. The outbreak is also spreading to neighboring countries, such as Chad, Central African Republic, Nigeria, and Niger, which are already weakened by food shortages and deteriorated health care, sanitation, and water supplies.
International Medical Corps, which has been working in Cameroon since 2008, sent assessment teams to cholera-affected areas in September and found many districts without partners to support them and the Ministry of Health to be in need of support. With support from the Gates Foundation, International Medical Corps will focus on early detection, as well as effective treatment and case management for cholera patients. To prevent further cases, International Medical Corps will also run community education campaigns and prepare communities to respond to outbreaks, by providing essential supplies, as well as training and education.
International Medical Corps has extensive experience in cholera outbreak response, management, and prevention and is currently responding to the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Other recent responses include Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Iraq. Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene are top priorities for the organization, with water and sanitation programs currently operating in Haiti, Somalia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.