WHO working to prevent spread of diseases in the wake of Sierra Leone tragedy

| Updated Aug 22, 2017 at 5:00am


Emergency services on their way to the scene of a deadly mud slide in Freetown. Photo: UNICEF 2017.


Preventing the spread of disease in Sierra Leone, where mudslides and flooding have killed hundreds of people, is "vital," the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The UN agency is working closely with the government to halt the potential spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera.

It is estimated that around 500 people died as a result of flooding and mudslides around the capital, Freetown, last Monday.

Scores are still missing.

Together with its partners, WHO is ensuring that the injured and displaced receive ongoing healthcare as well as psychosocial support.

WHO explained that residents in the affected areas are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of pre-existing infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid and cholera as their water and sanitation facilities have been damaged.

People are being urged to take precautions to help prevent any outbreaks, such as washing their hands, only drinking water that has been properly boiled or treated, and using latrines.

Cholera response kits, which include tools to test for the disease, are also being distributed in at-risk areas.