Freetown, Sierra Leone (PANA) - With 255 deaths so far recorded from 16,360 cases of cholera in Sierra Leone, the West African nation is scaling up its response by working with partners at national and international levels to stem the outbreak, PANA reported Tuesday.
President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared the epidemic a ''humanitarian crisis'', and has set up a presidential task force to oversee efforts to guide the response to the disease that has affected 12 out of 13 districts, with the Western area that includes the capital city of Freetown recording 60% of all news cases, according to WHO figures.
In addition to multi-sectoral approach that has been adopted to stem the tide of the disease, the country is also working with partners such as UNICEF, Oxfam, British Red Cross, Save the Children, Care, Concern MSF and WHO to scale up the response.
WHO said its Country Office in Freetown has established a Cholera Control and Command Centre (C4) to strengthen coordination, and support the Ministry of Health and other health providers to implement activities related to the Cholera Preparedness and Response
Operation Plan (CPROP), in order to bring the epidemic under control as soon as possible.
According to the global health body, the C4 will also provide information to guide the decision-making of the national task force.
As part of the coordinated efforts to check the further spread of the disease, there are ongoing community interventions on cholera prevention and control activities.
More than 200 traditional healers have been oriented on cholera, and community meetings are organised in Freetown to raise awareness of the importance of avoiding drinking water from unprotected water sources.
Text messages are also being used to channel information to the public by telephone companies.
Meanwhile, in spite of the cholera outbreak, WHO has said it does not recommend the application of travel and trade restrictions to Sierra Leone.
-0- PANA SEG 11Sept2012