(ERGO) – Three children and two adults have died recently from diarrhoea in the Intersos-run hospital in Jowhar, in southern Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region.
More people are reported by villagers to have died in outlying areas, where there are no health centres to confirm any deaths or sickness. Jowhar hospital is currently treating 38 people, mostly children, for diarrhoea.
A set of five isolation tents have been set up in the hospital grounds to treat those with diarrhoea. The tents are fenced off and visitors are required to wash their feet in chlorine to contain the spread of the disease.
The director of the Intersos-run hospital, Abdirahman Ali Abdirahman, told Radio Ergo that people in the district were drinking contaminated water from holes dug in the dry river bed. The water scarcity had lowered standards of hygiene and sanitation, leaving households unable to wash regularly or to clean cooking utensils.
He urged people to come to the hospital if they had symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea more than three times. He also requested health agencies and the Hirshabelle regional state administration to work together to give people access to safe drinking water as well as toilet facilities to curb the spread of disease.
The villages where the disease is spreading include Tugaarey, Gololey, Madah-gisi, Labo-waab, Raqayle, El-adde, Jamaac’o iyo Ali-waraabey in Jowhar district.
Alasow Geddi Ulusow spoke to Radio Ergo whilst in the hospital with his sister, 27, and his brother, 30. He brought them in from El-adde, 45 km west of Jowhar. He said they were receiving free treatment and were recovering.
Alasow said both adult siblings had fallen sick one night while they were out hunting antelopes. This is a new economic activity for local farmers, who lost all their crops in consecutive failed rainy seasons. He hired transport, borrowing the 600,000 Somali shillings ($42.50) for the fare.
He said that seven people had died of diarrhoea in El-adde.
Faay Haji Ali told Radio Ergo by phone that her husband died of diarrhoea three days ago in Tugaarey village, seven km outside Jowhar. Her family is using the dirty water they get from holes dug in the dried river bed.