Liberia: UNMIL Humanitarian Situation Report No. 133

7 - 13 January 2008


- None

Government confirms outbreak of cholera in southeast Liberia

Last week, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare confirmed that the suspected outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea in the southeastern counties of Maryland and Grand Kru is a cholera outbreak. Test results have confirmed one case of cholera and four fatalities were reported in Maryland and Grand Kru Counties. Between 5 December 2007 and 11 January 2008, the total number of cases reported at the two major health facilities in Maryland County (J. J. Dossen Hospital and Pleebo Health Centre) was 299 patients. There are no confirmed figures on the number of cases in Grand Kru County. ICRC confirmed that the cases of acute watery diarrhoea/ suspected cholera have so far been reported in Garraway and surrounding areas.

In addition to these officially confirmed cases, there were unconfirmed reports of an estimated 54 cases of acute watery diarrhoea in Karluway District in Maryland County. In River Gee County, it is also being reported that there is an apparent outbreak of diarrhoea. According to Dr. Moses Pewu, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, most of the figures reported are for people who can reach the two major facilities in Maryland County, and the situation in other parts of Maryland and Grand Kru Counties is unknown.

A comprehensive response is in place and it includes case management, improvement of water and sanitation facilities, hygiene promotion and awareness/sensitization. UNICEF has dispatched an assessment mission, including a consignment of drugs, water testing/purification materials and awareness/sensitization materials to be used in Grand Kru and Maryland Counties. WHO dispatched a cholera kit containing materials and medication for the treatment of 500 people. MERLIN, Solidarités, the Liberia National Red Cross Society, ICRC, UNMIL and other organizations are working with the County Health Team to respond to the outbreak.   So far, the response to the outbreak in Maryland County has stabilized the situation, while the situation in Grand Kru and River Gee Counties is being monitored.

Pentavelent vaccine launched in Liberia

On 11 January, the Government of Liberia, UNICEF, WHO and health partners announced the introduction of a pentavalent vaccine to be used in its Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI). The vaccine is a combination of vaccines that fully protect children against pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type b and hepatitis B. It will be administered at all health facilities that provide immunization services and conduct outreach activities in hard to reach communities without health facilities.