Washington, D.C., September 30th, 2022 – On September 19th, health authorities confirmed the first cholera case in northwest (NW) Syria in the Jarablus district of Aleppo governorate. Within 10 days, the number of cases in Jarablus increased to 17 cases, in addition to 22 confirmed cases in the Ras al Ein and Tal Abyad districts.
NW Syria is the last area of the country to confirm cases of cholera amidst a growing epidemic. During the period between August 25th and September 30th, surveillance data revealed that 169 cases of cholera, including 18 deaths, had been reported across NW and NE Syria, according to EWARN.
“Last resort sites” such as camps and camp-like settings continue to be at particular risk for poor health outcomes in the face of a cholera outbreak due to shortages in water and hygiene supplies, high risk of communicable disease transmission, and frequent overcrowding and long wait times at health facilities.
“People living in northwest Syria are still facing harsh humanitarian conditions as we prepare for the coming winter,” explained SAMS Chairman, Dr. Basel Termanini. “We are also working hard to ensure sustained cross-border access through the UN Security Council. The response to health emergencies such as the cholera outbreak depends on the cross-border aid mechanism,” Dr. Termanini added.
SAMS calls on the humanitarian community to swiftly implement the response plan to the cholera outbreak, prioritizing the following:
- Establishing and/or expanding lab testing capacity and health surveillance systems
- Implementing awareness activities through a multi-sectoral approach
- Supporting the WASH cluster and partners to ensure adequate quality water and sanitation, respond promptly to the WASH requirements of all HFs (prioritizing the CTCs&CTUs), and monitor the chlorine concentration in drinking water to prevent contamination
- Enact standard practices for cholera case management through activating ORPs at the HFs and the community, establish adequate CTCs and CTUs, and provide medications and medical supplies as needed
- Implement adequate infection prevention and control (IPC) measures
- Ramp up cholera vaccination efforts
- Considering the usual interrelation between cholera and malnutrition, increase support to efforts to support malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women (PLWs)