BRAZZAVILLE, 15 March 2013 (IRIN) - An influx of migrants from the countryside into the Republic of Congo's second largest city, Pointe-Noire, is exacerbating a cholera outbreak that began in November 2012. The outbreak infected at least 389 and killed 10, according to the health ministry and local authorities.
"Heavy rain in the port city in recent weeks and sanitation problems triggered the cholera outbreak," said Health Minister François Ibovi.
According to the mayor of Pointe-Noire, Roland Bouiti Viaudo, the booming city has seen a large influx of migrants from rural areas.
"People build and settle in prohibited areas, including [around] sewers, blocking the free flow of wastewater, which explains the repeated outbreaks of cholera,” he told IRIN. "To stop the disease… everyone - the authorities, NGOs and communities - should mobilize and become aware of this danger."
In early March, during a council of ministers' meeting, the government announced that emergency aid had been released to combat the outbreak, but it did not specify the amount.
Health authorities in Pointe-Noire, a city of more than 800,000, have set up an intensive cholera treatment centre on the grounds of the 200-bed Loandjili Hospital.
"This centre is run by six specialists in infectious diseases and the gastrointestinal tract. It also has a team of 28 nurses with disposable gowns, gloves, masks and shoes to avoid contamination," said the country’s director-general of health, Alexis Elira Dokekias.
"So far... of all cases reported by the Pointe-Noire health services, 347 have already returned home, 10 have died, and 32 are still hospitalized," he said.