- A minor cholera outbreak is reported from Senegal, which nevertheless causes considerable concern. The outbreak is centred around the sacred Muslim town of Touba, where the annual pilgrimage currently is taking place. Authorities fear that many pilgrims may be infected and spread the disease over the region.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday confirmed the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in Western Senegal, centred around the town of Touba. According to the Senegalese Ministry of Health, a total of 2054 cases and 8 deaths have been confirmed in Touba, Mbacké and Bambey districts of the Diourbel region.
The bacteria Vibrio cholerae has been laboratory confirmed in 14 out of 17 samples tested, according to WHO. The UN agency now is providing technical support to the Dakar Ministry of Health, including the "intensification of surveillance, case management and health promotion activities," according to WHO.
It is however proving difficult to prevent the spread of the cholera outbreak. The annual pilgrimage - the "Magal de Touba" - is currently taking place, which may account for the high increase in cases in these districts in the past week. Senegalese Muslims are currently flocking to Touba. Here, most live in the most basic conditions with poor sanitation, which is furthering the spread of cholera.
According to reports from Touba, "more than one million" Muslims from Senegal and neighbouring countries are currently in the sacred town. The "Magal de Touba" is the region's principal pilgrimage, celebrated annually to mark the 1895 departure into exile of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, the spiritual founder of the Mouride Muslim brotherhood. Sheikh Bamba had gathered fame as a religious teacher and traditional healer when he was expelled by the French colonial rulers.
For many West Africans, the "Magal de Touba" is as important as the Hajj, the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. It is deeper rooted in local Muslim traditions, but also more affordable to the poor majority of the region. While Touba has a growing capacity to receive this great number of pilgrims, most accommodation is very basic. Access to clean water is scarce during the event, making it an ideal condition for the cholera bacteria to spread.
According to WHO, this is also what is happening. "The outbreak appears to be extending to other regions," the UN agency reports. As a result of the heightened risk of additional cases, it was now "critical" that control measures be put in place and activities to raise awareness about the disease be disseminated throughout the community for increased prevention at the individual level, WHO said.
The Senegalese Ministry of Health has also intensified its work to assure improved hygienic conditions and clean water services to the many pilgrims in Touba. This is however proving a logistical challenge for national and local authorities, who also want to avoid panic at the Magal.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.