UN health agency stresses good hygiene to prevent cholera spread in Benin


9 February - Officials from the United Nations health agency and the Beninese Government are urging the West African nation's citizens to be extra vigilant in observing good hygiene amid a recent cholera outbreak that has already claimed several lives.

Since the outbreak began in early January, 131 cases have been confirmed of which two resulted in death, according to Léon Kohossi with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in Benin.

“This epidemic has erupted due to lack of hygiene,” Dr. Kohossi told the UN News Centre.

He noted that with the current dry season in Benin, locals are finding it difficult to get clean water and are therefore drinking from the Oueme River, which is polluted.

Most of the cases are centred around four villages located near the Oueme River – Bonou, Adjohoun, Dangbo and Aguegues.

Additional cases have been detected in the capital, Cotonou, which is some 200 kilometres from the epicentre of the outbreak, and Allada, located 100 kilometres north of Cotonou.

The Ministry of Health and local authorities are working to sensitize people against drinking unclean water and trying to identify ways to provide them with clean water.

Meanwhile, WHO is providing emergency kits, including medicine, that are being distributed to health centres in the affected areas to treat patients with cholera – an acute intestinal infection picked up through contaminated food or water, and which results in diarrhoea that can lead to severe dehydration and death without prompt treatment.