Health workers in Cameroon are fighting an outbreak of cholera, which this week killed 13 people in two major cities in the central African state. With the outbreak, which has affected several hundred people, Cameroon is set to host the African Football Cup of Nations, or AFCON, in about two months.
Cameroon’s Health Minister Manouda Malachi said in a release this week that thousands of citizens in the capital city of Yaounde and Ekondo-Titi, an English-speaking western city, are at risk of cholera.
Cholera is a contagious and often fatal bacterial disease of the small intestine, usually contracted from an infected water supply and food. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and can die within hours if left untreated.
Amos Kome Njikang, the medical doctor in charge of Ekondo-Titi Hospital, sent health workers to the community to find and transport cholera patients to the hospital.
“Four more cases were reported between yesterday and this morning,” he said. “We plan to move new cases from the community to the health facility in Bamousso. We’ve also tried to increase personal hygiene, hand washing, the washing of everything we consume. We’re trying to let them know.” That’s how to purify the water first. They drink.”
The health ministry said several hundred patients were taken to hospitals in Yaounde and Ekondo-Titi. The government said it had recorded at least 13 deaths from cholera in both the cities since Monday.
It is feared that the outbreak may have claimed more lives in villages that lack health infrastructure.
This week, the health ministry said it had dispatched several dozen health workers to warn citizens that eating raw and unripe fruits or drinking boiled water increases the risk of cholera.
The cholera outbreak comes as Cameroon prepares to host the African Football Cup of Nations, AFCON, starting on January 9.
Yaounde, which hosts teams from eight African nations in a continental football event, has reported at least 100 cholera cases.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Yaounde Mayor Luke Messi Atangana said he was cleaning up the city and improving potable water supplies to prevent the spread of cholera.
He said the outbreak has been fueled by an increase in garbage dumped by citizens on street corners, and that he has hired 30 garbage trucks to connect 200 others that clean the municipal solid waste yaund. He expects the yaund to be clean and free of cholera within the next two weeks.
The health ministry said it could be difficult to contain the cholera outbreak. Less than 30 percent of the population visits hospitals either because of ignorance or some citizens prefer traditional African medicine. Health workers are urging citizens to send suspected cholera cases to nearby hospitals.