|Children fetch water in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Credit|
In the weeks that have followed, the government and NGOs have ramped up operations to reduce the spread of cholera. The Red Cross deployed 400 volunteers and MSF announced it would open two additional centers in Freetown at the start of August. “Our present cholera treatment facilities are stretched to the limit with patients. The patients that we see are of all ages, so it’s not just children or already weak people that are at risk,” said Karen Van den Brande, MSF head of mission in Sierra Leone.
However, it appears that present efforts have been insufficient. Both the Health for All Coalition (HFAC) and WASH-Net have recently called on the health ministry to step up its response effort. HFAC said in a press release, "We wish to commend officials of the health ministry, World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners for their efforts in controlling the spread of the disease in the country. The fight against cholera must be intensified. We therefore call on all and sundry to join hands with MoHS, partners and HFAC to rid our country of cholera and other deadly diseases."
The concerns are built upon the rising number of cases and complaints from civil society members that certain communities are being ignored by the response. The local Concord Times reported on the Susan's Bay district of Freetown where poor sanitation makes it a hotbed for cholera.
Neighbor Guinea is also dealing with a cholera outbreak that AFP reports today has killed 60 people since February. MSF is also responding to the problem by working to up the number of hospital beds. All of this, as pointed out by AFP, is exacerbated by the drought across the Sahel which is leading to higher rates of malnutrition.