Latest figures show a downward trend of the number of cholera patients in Sierra Leone, particularly in Western Area and the capital Freetown.
Agencies working with the government to limit the outbreak say however that risk factors remain, especially in regard to clean water, sanitation and public health education. Furthermore figures can be misleading especially in districts where surveillance and reporting is weak.
“There has been enormous progress made through the strong commitment of the Sierra Leonean government and the coordinated efforts of all operational partners. However we must continue to support the districts in rapidly identifying and intervening where cases are occurring”, says Dr.Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.
“With continued leadership and the close collaboration of all partners, there is much more to do.”
“We are very happy that the measures we put in place are working and that cholera cases are going down”, says UNICEF Representative Roeland Monasch. "However, cholera is an issue of hygiene and sanitation as well as of health education. If we scale down our efforts in those areas now, the number of cases can rise again very quickly.”
UNICEF plans to maintain activities to ensure the downward trend continues and preventive measures can be put in place.
“We should not stop fighting the cholera before the number of cases has gone down to 0, and even then we want to put preventive measures in place so that we increase the chances that one day this disease will disappear in Sierra Leone”, says UNICEF Emergency Specialist Moira Fratta.
The cholera outbreak that started in January 2012 has until 16 September affected more than 18,508 people and killed 271.
Twelve out of 13 districts of the country are afflicted with the disease. The outbreak has been the worst since 1998.