Ending cholera: Community health workers are working on it.
In the Littoral region, community health workers with UNICEF support are struggling with a relentless fight against cholera.
The resurgence of cholera has killed 241 people since October 2021 in Cameroon. According to a report made by the Ministry of Public Health, about 12,129 cases of the disease have been reported. The Littoral region is one of the most affected by this epidemic, with 5,180 cases and 128 deaths having been reported. Health authorities, volunteers and health workers are mobilizing to stop the spread of the disease.
“Since the beginning of this epidemic, we have registered about 120 cases and 4 deaths,” says Dr. Messomo, Head of Japoma Health District. stressing that “the most affected localities are swampy areas. Precipitation and contamination of water sources are an important factor in the spread of the disease. “With the support of partners such as UNICEF, we have launched an awareness campaign in the six health areas affected by the epidemic that has already lasts 6 weeks. 50 multi-skilled community health workers have been recruited. Their role is to communicate, raise awareness and disinfect when the need arises,” He said.
In groups of three or four, the health workers are recognizable by their combination of Biological hazard protection, white serotype, armed with sprayers, images,, backpacks containing aquatabs, bleach powder and other accessories for fighting cholera. Despite the poor road conditions and weather, they walk for hours through neighborhoods to inform and raise awareness.
Today, they have reached about 50 households. The door-to-door service helped raise awareness of practical hygiene measures such as hand washing, disinfection of houses and latrines, and allowed for the distribution of aquatabs with demonstrations on water purification treatment to avoid illness.
“I lost my nephew in strange conditions, because of lack of information. I believe that if his parents had followed the necessary information, he would still be alive. This is what encourages me to engage in actions to fight cholera such as awareness raising and prevention. It is not easy with limited accessibility and our current working conditions. But I know that relevant information can save lives. » says Orchelle Moukoko in the district health of Japoma.
According to Andre, the team leader, “our work has prevented contamination and deaths. Our role is to alert, detect, respond to, and prevent threats. We are on site from Monday to Sunday. We master the neighborhood at our fingertips. Before, it was a bit difficult, but now thanks to the awareness raising we are doing, the population is starting to accept the preventive measures. For instance, out of 200 houses, we only had one case of resistance. This means that our actions are bearing fruit. We thank UNICEF for its support. »
UNICEF is working tirelessly with the Ministry of Health and other partners to fight against this cholera outbreak, while promoting better access to water and sanitation, which are important structural conditions for interrupting the transmission chain. Technical and equipment support are provided to social workers on site in the affected health zones as the supply of chlorine , soap, handwashing kits, image boxes for awareness raising and prevention.