(ERGO) – Seven-year-old Ali Salaat Ali died of cholera on 25 April in Hagardera in the Dadaab refugee camp complex, as heavy rains and flooding in this part of north-eastern Kenya have caused the onset of outbreaks of disease.
Abdi Ali Osman, Ali’s uncle and guardian, told Radio Ergo that Ali was in agony during the night and he got in touch with the camp hospital asking them to help. An ambulance was sent to bring the child to the hospital, run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Abdi said at the hospital the doctors were not able to locate veins on Ali’s already dehydrated body to administer an intravenous drip. He was given oral rehydration fluids but continued to suffer diarrhoea and constant vomiting and died the following morning.
Confirming Ali’s death, IRC head of medical affairs in the camp Dr Abdi Jamal Hassan said a woman and another child also died of cholera in the camp during the last two weeks before they could reach the hospital. Thirteen patients, including eight children under the age of five, have been admitted to a segregated ward are under treatment whilst samples are being tested for cholera at the IRC laboratory.
Health workers report that the recent heavy rainfall, causing huge areas of flooding, has made the refugee camps highly prone to the spread of cholera and other diseases. Latrines have been flooded and sewage has overflowed into huge pools of water that the children are swimming in.
Asho Abdiqadir, a mother of nine and a refugee in Hagardera, has been in the hospital with her two grandchildren for a week. She said the children aged six and seven are living in an unhygienic environment and lack proper toilets. They defecate in the open as the pit latrines are full and have not been renovated for five years.
Asho said the adults have constructed makeshift latrines fenced with cloth and stick, whilst the children go into the bush. She said they have complained to the NGOs and asked them to help construct proper latrines, but despite talks with camp leaders nothing has happened.
Adan Ismail Sanweyne, sanitation and hygiene officer with the NGO, CARE, said they had received complaints and surveyed the pit latrines documenting which were full and needed to be replaced. However they lacked funds to carry out the work required.
Aid workers have been going round the camp in vehicles mounted with loudspeakers warning camp residents about the dangers of diseases at this time and how to dispose of waste.
Meanwhile heavy rains are forecast to continue to pound parts of Kenya, as well as Somalia, and have already led to thousands of people being left homeless.