A cholera outbreak in South Sudan has killed at least 32 people, a fifth of them children under five. The United Nations said on Tuesday that schools have a major role to play in stemming the spread of the disease.
According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF, more than 700 cholera cases have been reported in the capital Juba and Bor, the capital of Jonglei state in the last five weeks.
Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said in a statement that one of the most powerful ways to respond to the outbreak is by equipping schoolchildren with the information and tools they need to protect themselves and their families.
According to UNICEF, children are being encouraged to raise awareness about the disease among their families and communities in a country where only one in four adults are literate.
The U.N humanitarian agency last week reported that as many as 5,000 children under the age of five are at a risk of dying from cholera unless urgent action is taken to contain the outbreak.
Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by drinking contaminated water or eating food that has been in contact with contaminated water.
Without treatment, the combination of diarrhoea and vomiting can cause a person to quickly become dehydrated and in severe cases cases it becomes fatal.