UNICEF has provided urgent medical supplies to health authorities in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, after 10 new cases of cholera were confirmed in the city's Koumassi district.

The supplies will allow health authorities to treat up to 1,000 patients infected with cholera. Soap, chlorine, and water treatment kits have also been provided for up to 400,000 people.

"In the midst of the rainy season, the resurgence of cholera requires concerted action to restore access to drinkable water," said Hervé Ludovic de Lys, UNICEF representative in Côte d’Ivoire. "Women and children would be the first victims of any such epidemic."

Forty-two new cases of cholera, including three deaths, have been confirmed in Abidjan since 16 May.

Recent political violence in Côte d'Ivoire has caused over 500,000 people to flee their homes, the majority of whom are women and children. As an increasing number have moved to western Côte d'Ivoire, clean water supplies have been badly stretched in that part of the country.

Over the past weeks UNICEF and partners have provided clean water for up to 2,000 internally displaced people people every day in Danané, and to up to 5,000 in Duékoué.

In addition to providing water, UNICEF also promotes good hygiene practices, and has launched a public awareness campaign on community radios across the country to inform the population on water purification techniques. Water purification tablets have been supplied to over 240,000 people.

Cholera is transmitted by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium, vibrio cholerae. The bacteria causes acute diarrhea and is easily treatable, but can be lethal if left untreated.

 
A boy sits in a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space in Logouale, Côte d’Ivoire. The space provides meals and a safe place for children to learn and play. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0642/Olivier Asselin
A boy sits in a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space in Logouale, Côte d’Ivoire. The space provides meals and a safe place for children to learn and play. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0642/Olivier Asselin