Sudan + 1 more

Sudan: Rains bring risk of malaria and cholera outbreaks in Darfur and Chad

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DEC AGENCIES URGE PUBLIC TO KEEP GIVING TO HELP THOSE IN NEED BEFORE DOWNPOURS ARRIVE

Health needs in Darfur and Chad are greater than ever after four years of conflict and could escalate further if the impending rains lead to cholera and malaria outbreaks, aid agencies warned today.

During last year's rainy season there was a 130% increase in the number of malaria cases at health facilities in South Darfurrun by one of the DEC agencies, Merlin. More than 7,500 malaria patients in total were treated at eight clinics from June to October.

In the same period last year, more than 2,000 cholera cases were recorded across North, South and West Darfur, according to the World Health Organisation, as an outbreak of the disease spread rapidly from Khartoum in April to Darfur and other regions during the rainy season.

With aid agencies already battling to construct and maintain clean water supply lines, the downpours expected within the next four weeks could lead to further contamination of water sources. The result - pools of stagnant water which provide ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes and increase the risks of fatal diseases.

It is vital that aid agencies act now to pre-position stocks of medicines and other medical equipment to prepare for the epidemics that the rains can bring. Merlin is already distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets to pregnant women and mothers with young children to help prevent malaria.

The rains also mean that older people in need of medical care at home are harder to reach. A recent survey by Help the Aged in five camps in west Darfur found that around two-thirds of older people faced problems getting around and many were unable to leave their homes. Help the Aged is providing vital care to these older people through a network of home visitors and a medical referral system operated by donkey carts.

What your money could buy:

£50 could provide medical treatment for 40 adults with malaria

£70 could buy long-lasting mosquito nets for 10 families

£315 could buy a donkey cart to bring vital health services to older people who struggle to access health care.

You can donate to the Darfurand Chad Crisis Appeal by calling 0870 60 60 900 (national call rates), visiting www.dec.org.uk or donating at any post office or high street bank. Cheques made payable to Darfur and Chad Crisis can be sent to POBOX 999, London, EC3A 3AA.

"After four years of conflict, the health needs in Darfur and Chadare greater than ever," said Linda Edwards, Merlin's Country Director in Darfur. "More than two million people are displaced and living in desperate conditions, with little access to health care. DEC agencies urgently need more funds to provide medical aid to even more vulnerable people and to save more lives."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

- On May 24, the UK's leading international aid charities joined forces to launch an appeal to raise funds to help people affected by the growing crisis in Darfur, Chad and Central African Republic.

- The DEC Agencies involved in this appeal are: British Red Cross, Cafod, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision

For more information please contact:

Broadcast: 0207 255 9114 or broadcastlead@dec.org.uk
Print: 0207 255 9113 or printlead@dec.org.uk
Out of hours: 07930 999 014