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The British Red Cross has released thousands of pounds from its disaster fund to fight a cholera outbreak in Nepal.
Around 50,000 people have already been hit by the disease in the current outbreak which has claimed 268 lives.
The £15,000 from the British Red Cross is supporting work by the Nepal Red Cross Society, and will be used to advance hygiene promotion efforts – a key tool in halting the spread of the disease.
“Cholera outbreaks in Nepal are relatively rare, until 1997 the country had been free of the disease for a decade, so to see it re-emerging on this scale is extremely worrying,“ said Pete Garratt, relief operations manager for the British Red Cross.
“Basic hygiene is the biggest issue and, although work also needs to be done to ensure clean water supplies and sanitation, the most important factor in tackling the disease is community education.
“Teaching people good hygiene practices will not only protect people now, but should help keep them safe for the rest of their lives, so that is where the bulk of the British Red Cross money is going.”
As well as preventative hygiene education, which will include leaflets, posters, community information boards, street theatre and visits to schools, the Nepal Red Cross will also be distributing tens-of-thousands of water purification kits and almost 100,000 sachets of life-saving oral rehydration salts to those affected.
“The British and Nepal Red Cross societies have a very good, longstanding relationship and there is a British Red Cross delegate in Nepal who has helped with the response to the cholera outbreak,” added Garratt.
“Supporting partner national societies in responding to health emergencies such as this - helping save lives and building resilience against future emergencies - is a vital part of what we do.”
Donations can be made to the British Red Cross Disaster Fund at www.redcross.org.uk/disasterfund or by calling 0845 054 7205.
British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.