- Officially announced in early June, the current cholera epidemic in Guinea-Bissau has already caused more than 200 deaths, most of them in the nation's capital, Bissau. Neighbours such as Cape Verde and Senegal fear that the epidemic may soon cross international borders.
Even as the number of new cases of cholera in Guinea-Bissau is beginning to go down, the mortality rate remains high. Of the more than 10,000 cases officially registered since early June, some 250 have resulted in deaths. This is a higher than normal death rate for cholera, a deadly disease that easily can be curred.
The situation has made a number of Guinea-Bissau's neighbour's concerned. One of these neighbors is the fellow Portuguese speaking island nation Cape Verde, where sources close to the Ministry of Health say authorities fear the arrival of the disease in the country, considering the considerable traffic of persons and goods between Bissau and Praia.
In addition, this year's particularly humid rainy season and the less-than-ideal hygienic habits of the majority of the population in Cape Verde's capital, Praia, translate into fertile terrain for the propagation of the illness.
The other West African country that has extensive contact with Guinea-Bissau is the northern neighbour Senegal. The good roads into Senegal's southern Casamance province provide Guinea-Bissau with its main trade and travel corridors.
Also in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, extensive rains have caused returning flooding and perfect conditions for the cholera bacteria. Senegal also has to fear a parallel cholera outbreak in its northern neighbour country, Mauritania.
From Bissau, health workers report of a slow retreat of the cholera epidemic. The waterborne disease typically strikes in Bissau after periods of heavy rains.
According to the UN, authorities in Guinea-Bissau have done all they can to stop the epidemic, given its limited budgets. Bissau authorities earlier this month appealed for 129,000 euros from international donors to be able to provide the affected with medicines. No aid pledges have come so far.
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