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Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make an urgent assessment of the impact of disease outbreaks in internally displaced persons camps in Darfur. (78929)

The only significant disease outbreak currently affecting Darfur is that of the 75 cases of acute watery diarrhoea in South Darfur. The outbreak has so far claimed four lives in the state, with cases concentrated in Nyala, Kass and EI-Daein towns. The first report of the outbreak was on 24 May 2006 and all four deaths to date occurred on 24-25 May 2006. This reflects the effective planning and response by the Government and humanitarian agencies. Although, the vast majority of cases have been amongst town residents rather than in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, the unconfirmed reports of a case in Gereida, where 100,000 IDPs have sought shelter, is of concern.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health have established a task force to co-ordinate the response. In accordance with their contingency plans, a public health campaign has been launched, broadcasting hygiene promotion messages on local TV and radio. The immediate response has also included the mapping of cases, identifying high risk areas for chlorination of water supplies and testing. In preparation for an outbreak, the WHO stockpiled cholera treatment kits across Darfur. These have proved invaluable in enabling the immediate response. In addition, a Cholera Treatment Centre has been set up in Nyala with the capacity to handle 50 patients a day.