29 August 2007 – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is assisting the Iraqi Government in responding to a recent outbreak of cholera in the northern governorate of Sulemaniyah which has already claimed 10 lives and left thousands ill.
Following a request from Government officials for UN technical support, WHO’s representative in Iraq, Naeema Al-Gasser, supported by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), led a mission to Sulemaniyah to investigate the outbreak and provide technical advice.
"To date, it is estimated that Sulemaniyah governorate experienced close to 5,000 cases since 10 August, with 10 deaths reported and 51 confirmed cases in Kirkuk," WHO said in a statement issued in Baghdad. Two hospitals in the stricken governorate also reported treating 2,000 diarrhea cases.
The central government has shipped tons of medicine and medical supplies to Sulemaniyah, as have WHO, UNICEF and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
WHO emphasized the importance of basic hygienic measures to limit the spread of the infectious and often fatal water-borne disease as well as increased public awareness. The main source of cholera derives from the poor sewage networks and water quality in Iraq.
The agency has already established monitoring systems and will make available an international team to provide support as requested. It also plans to set up a surveillance system for water quality control, food inspection, and case findings and management while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will provide oral re-hydration therapy.