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News for the Week of February 22, 1999
February 22, 1999
Meningitis Outbreak in Sudan
The Sudanese Ministry of Health has asked MSF to assess a serious outbreak of meningococcal meningitis in six states in northern Sudan. As of February 17, there were 820 reported cases of the disease and 119 deaths. The worst-hit areas are North, West, and South Darfur; North and South Kordafan; and Sennar. MSF teams have arrived in northern Sudan to assess the prevalence of the disease and verify reported cases. Cases of meningitis are also being reported among the 20,000 displaced people who have recently fled fighting and gathered around the city of El Geneina. Meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, is a highly infectious disease that left untreated is fatal in 50 to 80% of all cases.
Cholera Preparedness in El Salvador
Confirmed cases of cholera in El Salvador have risen alarmingly in the last few weeks. More than 50 cases, more than half of which occurred in the capital of San Salvador, and one death have been officially reported. The main source of infection is from contaminated vegetables. Inadequate sanitation and a lack of clean water have also aggravated the situation. MSF is supporting efforts by local health authorities to devise cholera preparedness plans. MSF is purchasing supplies of materials such as boots, aprons, and footbaths that are necessary to prevent further spread of the disease when treating patients. Chlorinated water and water chlorination equipment are being supplied to eight regions of the country. Teams are also providing expertise on the diagnosis and treatment of cholera to several hospitals in San Salvador where MSF currently runs health programs.
Situation Remains Tense in Sierra Leone
Following a rebel attack on the city of Kambia in the northwestern part of Sierra Leone last week, thousands of residents have fled to the border of Guinea. MSF teams are providing for the basic sanitation and health care needs of the refugees. In Freetown, MSF continues to provide surgical support to war-wounded in Connaught Hospital. Approximately 85% of the 300 patients in Connaught are suffering from limb amputations or gunshot wounds. MSF has also set up a mobile medical clinic to serve residents of the eastern part of Freetown and is supporting two make-shift clinics for displaced people seeking refuge in the Freetown football stadium.