WEST AFRICA: Cholera - what's working?

July 10, 2012

"The cyclical nature of cholera and the fact that immunity builds after large-scale epidemics are some of the reasons for this year’s lower caseload, said practitioners...All responding agencies, including MSF, stressed that the vaccine is not a standalone solution and should be seen as a supplementary activity. 'We put a lot of effort into all the strategies at once,' Ciglenecki told IRIN, referring to the need to raise awareness of public hygiene, targeting cholera hot spots, setting up early warning systems, and treating water. Agencies such as MSF, UNICEF and Action contre la faim (ACF) - Action against Hunger - an international NGO, have been implementing these measures for years in West Africa's cholera-prone areas... Monitoring has also improved. Six surveillance posts have been set up in high-risk zones across the country to detect potential cases and respond to them immediately, said Beatriz Navarro Rubio, head of ACF in Guinea...Coordination between the responding actors has been “very good” said Rubio. Inter-agency disaster simulation exercises had taken place shortly before the outbreak, so everyone was ready to step into gear when cholera hit."