Training Health Workers to Fight Cholera in the Horn of Africa

Early progress in the Global Cholera Preparedness Initiative

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A displaced Somali family stands out in the rain after their makeshift shelter was destroyed Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Feisal Omar

When cholera strikes, preparation and proper treatment save lives from this fast-spreading disease that can kill in 10-12 hours.  AmeriCares and leading global health organization icddr,b  have teamed up to provide training to health care professionals fighting cholera in the Horn of Africa – a region ravaged by famine and conflict. 

Globally, cholera kills 100,000 people each year.  AmeriCares and icddr,b are working with local doctors and nurses to build anti-cholera infrastructure, beginning in Somalia, one of the poorest countries in the world.  The training is part of the AmeriCares and icddr,b Global Cholera Preparedness Initiative, announced last year at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.

Health Care Workers Learn Critical Skills

Twenty-five-year-old nurse Aisha works directly with refugees, including many women and children. She had never received professional development training and feels excited to serve her community even more effectively after learning about how to manage and treat cholera.

“I was worried whether I was going to follow through the training, but the way the trainers taught us was amazing,” she said. “Thank you AmeriCares for this great opportunity.”

At the Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, where training took place earlier in the summer, more than 4,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea have been recorded – mainly in young children. The Somalian people, battling famine and a cholera epidemic, have been fleeing in droves to Mogadishu to seek protection and resources. Empowering hospitals to fight cholera in the urban center is crucial.

The Cholera Preparedness Initiative and Other Medical Assistance

Through the Cholera Preparedness Initiative, we deploy emergency cholera treatment supplies to places facing high risks of outbreaks, as well as support the teaching of health workers to diagnose and treat cholera, control infection and offer preventive education.  

In addition to Somalia, our assessment teams are responding to cholera reports in Sierra Leone.  One of our cholera supply modules, which consists of critical medicines used to treat 15,000 people with cholera, has  arrived in that country for distribution to areas of greatest need.

AmeriCares has responded to the drought in the Horn of Africa with enough medicines to treat 180,000 people, nutritional supplements and water purifiers.