Cholera and looming food crisis in Afghanistan

In addition to existing problems confronting Afghanistan, the country is now also facing a cholera epidemic.

MSF has opened a cholera treatment centre (CTC) in the health centre of Bala Morghab, in the Northwest of the country). Additional reports about cholera have come in from the nearby district of Gormach.

A combined team of Afghan health authorities workers and an MSF Afghan team member have set out to establish the CTC and assess the situation in the villages where incidences of cholera have been reported. The team is carrying oral rehydration salts (ORS) and chlorination material to treat the drinking water.

Since the distances between the villages are big, stocks of ORS will be left in the villages. The 'mullahs' and/or local health workers will be instructed how to administer the fluid.

Three medical expats from an MSF emergency team will be dispatched to reinforce the team in Afghanistan.

No cases of cholera have been reported from Kandahar or Herat. Expectations are that the epidemic will not deteriorate into a massive crisis, but will slowly move from region to region since the villages are so spread out.

In response to the looming food crisis in Afghanistan, MSF has started vaccinating against measles in some of the provinces where it already works and where the vaccination rate is low. At the same time the children will be measured according to the MUAC-system (middle upper arm circumference) to monitor developments concerning the food situation.

Through four health centres in Bala Morghab, Kandahar and Herat, MSF will be distributing weekly supplementary food rations to those children in need of supplementary feeding, with enough food to feed the whole family. More effort will be put into scanning the developments, with special attention paid to monitoring the information from the health centres, the prices of food and population movements.