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Stamford, Conn. – May 17, 2012 – AmeriCares and icddr,b have launched a new cholera-fighting program in the Horn of Africa, where recent rains have increased fears of large-scale outbreaks. The two organizations began by training 50 doctors and nurses in cholera prevention and treatment this week. The health professionals—half in Mogadishu, Somalia, and half in Dadaab, Kenya— learned cholera management techniques they will teach other local health workers in upcoming months to increase preparedness. Every year, as many as five million cholera cases worldwide cause more than 100,000 deaths. The waterborne disease poses a great danger in refugee camps like those in Dadaab because it spreads rapidly in areas with poor sanitation and overcrowding, and can kill the sickest patients in as little as 10 to 12 hours.
The health workers were trained to diagnose and treat cholera, control infection and offer preventive education as part of a joint Global Cholera Preparedness program that icddr,b and AmeriCares announced at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The commitment, designed to save lives during cholera outbreaks, combines AmeriCares medical supplies and emergency response experience with icddr,b’s technical expertise in the treatment of cholera and other diarrheal diseases.
In addition to training, the commitment includes the formation of assessment and diagnostic teams that can be deployed rapidly in the event of an outbreak, prepositioned kits with medicines and supplies to treat 15,000 patients with cholera and acute watery diarrhea (AWD), and the establishment of a model training and treatment center to reinforce best practices for managing a large-scale cholera outbreak.
“A proactive approach to fighting cholera goes beyond treating patients,” said AmeriCares President and CEO Curt Welling. “By prepositioning supplies and increasing local capacity, we can save even more lives.”
icddr,b pioneered the development of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), the most effective treatment of cholera and acute watery diarrhea. For more than five decades, icddr,b has delivered treatment and training to cholera-affected communities in Bangladesh. icddr,b teams of cholera experts have also provided assistance and training all over the world, to countries including Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Haiti, Kenya and Somalia.
AmeriCares has been responding to worldwide emergencies and waterborne disease outbreaks for 30 years, including the current cholera epidemic in Haiti. The organization recently shipped more than 100,000 liters of IV solution Haiti—enough to treat 17,000 of the most seriously ill cholera patients.
AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries. For more information, visit americares.org
icddr,b is an international public health research institution, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. For more than 50 years, it has pioneered practical, low-cost solutions to health problems that affect billions of people living in poverty in South Asia and across the globe. Its unique proximity to the health challenges of the developing world, both urban and rural, allows for the development of cutting-edge interventions that are relevant, rigorously tested, scalable in resource-limited settings and, most importantly, improve health outcomes and well-being of individuals in low-income countries. Daily exposure to cholera and AWD means that the team of doctors and nurses at icddr,b, dubbed the ‘cholera warriors’, are global experts in the management of cholera. It is regularly called upon by the World Health Organization and local Ministries of Health to share their expertise worldwide. For more information, visit icddrb.org