The World Health Organisation (WHO) is working closely with the Government of Sierra Leone to prevent the spread of malaria and cholera in the wake of last week’s mudslides and flooding in Freetown.
Mr. Alexander Chimbaru, Officer in Charge of WHO in Sierra Leone, said the UN health agency was doing everything possible to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the country’s capital.
“The mudslides have caused extreme suffering and loss of life, and we must do all we can to protect the population from additional health risks.
“With damage to water and sanitation facilities, residents of affected areas are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of pre-existing infectious diseases including malaria and diarrheal conditions such as typhoid and cholera,” Chimbaru said.
The most recent cholera outbreak in the country occurred in 2012, according to the global health agency.
Chimbaru said cholera response kits, including rapid testing tools, were being distributed to areas at risk, while health and community workers were being trained to recognise the signs of priority diseases.
“While the Government and WHO are working hard to strengthen health services in the affected areas, we also urge the population to take the following precautions to help avoid a possible outbreak.
“These are hand washing, drinking only water that has been properly boiled or treated, use of latrines for sanitation, and adherence to good food hygiene practices,” Chimbaru added.
Around 500 people are known to have died as a result of the flooding and mudslides that devastated whole communities in and around Freetown, and hundreds more are still missing, according to the UN.
Meanwhile, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed will sign a book of condolences for the victims of the mudslides at the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission in New York later on Monday.