'Race against time' as cholera spreads rapidly in Lebanon

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- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/vegvkd/

Oxfam warned today of a race to stem the spread of cholera in Lebanon as the first outbreak of the contagious - yet preventable and treatable - disease in the country in a generation leaves hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable to infection.

The Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon has reported 287 cholera cases and confirmed 11 deaths, one of them a five-month-old boy. The outbreak is across the North, Akkar and Baalbek governorates, and infections are spreading quickly.

Bojan Kolundzija, Oxfam in Lebanon Country Director, said: “We are in a race against time. It is critical that communities have enough information about cholera to keep themselves safe and break the chain of transmission. The multiple crises Lebanon is facing have collapsed the water and sanitation infrastructure and severely strained already crowded neighbourhoods’ public health services, including hospitals.”

Oxfam, together with local partners, has already helped 5,000 people and is preparing to help 100,000 people in North Lebanon and Baalbek districts in the next six months. Support includes awareness raising to prevent the spread of cholera, provision of clean water, ramping up critical sanitation services, increasing water testing, and distributing hygiene kits, as the disease risks spreading through already vulnerable communities.

Lebanon remains plunged into an unprecedented financial crisis and soaring cost of living, over 50 per cent of the population live in poverty, and Beirut continues to recover after a massive blast destroyed over half of the city.

Kolundzija said: “People are already struggling amid crises that continue to mount and decimate public services. The lack of electricity, clean water and proper sanitation means that cholera could spread rapidly through the already poverty-stricken population, with the most vulnerable at greatest risk. Urgent funding is needed to ensure health facilities are supported and water and sanitation services properly functioning so we can stop this outbreak in its tracks.”


For media enquiries please contact: media.unit@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to Editor:

  • Active in Lebanon since 1993, Oxfam is currently targeting 61,739 people with clean water through the installation of solar water pumping stations. Investing in the installation of solar systems to water pumping stations ensured safe access to water to thousands of people throughout the last year, including during power cuts.
  • Oxfam in Lebanon is working with local partners Association Najdeh, Association Nabad for Development, and UTOPIA Organization on the current cholera response.

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