UNICEF and partners joint efforts to prevent a new cholera epidemic in Niger
Hazirou is 8 years old and he is one of the thousands of children who survived cholera last year in Niger. We have visited his home and he still remembers the experience as traumatic.
“Last year I had cholera. I was told in order to not get sick anymore I have always to wash my hands before eating,” he says.
“It took me two weeks to regain strength again, I was exhausted. It was my mum who was next to me all the time,” remembers Jacoub, another victim in the same neighborhood as Hazirou, in the Andoumé district, Maradi, Niger.
The outbreak of cholera was officially declared in Niger on 15 July 2018.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, UNICEF and its partners joint efforts to provide a multi-sector response to fight the spread through WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), health and communication activities and to reduce the number of deaths.
The Andoumé neighborhood in Maradi, Niger, was one of the affected areas. Hadiza Guerou, is a community leader in the cholera response team. She talks to us about her experience in the fight against cholera last year.
“A single case of cholera means already an outbreak. Last year we registered 126 cases of cholera only in our health center. We made a huge effort to raise awareness in the communities about hygiene and sanitation as prevention measures against the disease. We hope we have equipped, awared, and trained communities so the epidemic can be avoided this year.”
Hadiza takes us to visit Jacoub and Hazirou’s families in Andoume. The mothers in the neighborhood remember the experience:
“It was at night when my son had the first diarrhea. First we used traditional medicine but he didn’t want to drink it. In the morning he started vomiting so we brought him straight away to the health center. After several analyses, they transferred him into an area that was reserved only for the cases of cholera. There he was treated for three days.” Tells Aissatou.
“Those three days were so long that I was not able to sleep, I was not hungry, I could not even eat. All my thoughts were on him. When I saw him in that condition I thought he would not survive. But thank God, health agents took care of him. When he recovered, it can’t tell how happy I was!” says Hadjara.
UNICEF and partners supported with the Ministry of Public Health by providing treatment and aid products for the affected patients. Thanks to the support of ECHO, CERF and Direct Aid WASH and sensitization activities with community volunteers were implemented in the affected areas to increase the raise of awareness and early detection.
“The health agents gave us products to purify water and medicines for the treatment. They also gave us advice on hygiene and sanitation for our households. We understood that, it is the lack of hygiene that caused this epidemic. It is difficult for us as parents to control where our children play” says Aissatou.
With this partnership UNICEF assisted a total of 574,970 affected people in Niger. The joint efforts resulted in the reduction of cholera’s mortality in the country.
The prevention and community resilience activities were crucial to contribute to the contention of the epidemic with no new cases in the districts since November 2018.