[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Deadly cholera outbreak in Iraq
An outbreak of cholera in two northern Iraqi provinces has killed eight people and infected 80 others, the Kurdistan Regional Government has said.

Kurdish Health Minister Zeryan Othman said local health authorities were also treating 4,250 suspected cases of the disease in Sulaimaniya and Tamim.

Specialist teams and emergency aid have been sent to the affected regions.

Serious problems with water quality and sewage treatment, worsened by crumbling local infrastructure, are being blamed.

A report by the UK-based charity, Oxfam, and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) last month warned that 70% of Iraq's population did not have adequate water supplies and that only 20% had access to effective sanitation.

Emergency aid

Speaking after a visit to Azadi hospital in Kirkuk, Mr Othman said there were 47 confirmed cases of cholera in Tamim province and 35 in the neighbouring semi-autonomous Kurdish province of Sulaimaniya.

The minister said 2,350 people were also suffering from diarrhoea in Sulaimaniya and a further 2,000 in Tamim.

Iraqis in Baghdad hold up bottles of brown, muddy water at a demonstration calling for better quality drinking water (19 August 2007)

Mr Othman said the rate is about three times higher than the number recorded in the past three years.

He also warned that other areas could become affected, including the capital Baghdad and the central province of Salahuddin, where there have been some cases of the disease.

Specialist teams have been sent from Baghdad and emergency supplies flown in, he added.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) is distributing safe water and oral rehydration kits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it will establish a system to monitor water quality in the region.

Cholera is a bacterial infection which causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Patients, particularly children and the elderly, are vulnerable to dangerous dehydration as a result.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific