Workers with government and non-government agencies including the British Red Cross are battling to halt the spread of the deadly and often fatal disease tin Sierra Leone
Former Greendown School (now Lydiard Park Academy) pupil Anna Hirsch-Holland, 25, from West Swindon is flying out on Wedneday to join a Red Cross emergency response team in the country helping to treat people at risk. The disease, which has already infected more than 18,500 people and killed more than 270, is spreading rapidly with cholera cases reported in all 13 districts of the country.
Now based at the British Red Cross’s London HQ, Anna will join experts from the global Red Cross movement to halt the rise in the number of people affected by the water-borne infection, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and can kill within hours if left untreated.
Anna said: “Cholera is a deadly disease and this devastating outbreak has already claimed hundreds of lives. However, Red Cross work to promote good hygiene practices and make sure people have access to clean drinking water is making a huge difference to communities, and succeeding in reducing the number of people infected.
"I am looking forward to supporting this vital work to stop the spread of this disease as quickly as possible."
The team will be supplying health facilities with cholera kits, raising awareness about cholera, including surveillance, early detection and good hygiene practices, and providing safe water through household water treatment and rehabilitating water points.
The Sierra Leone government officially declared a cholera outbreak in March, and the disease and been spreading since then, with a spike in reported cases since mid-July and the onset of the rainy season.
At the end of August, the British Red Cross sent a Field Assessment and Coordination Team to Sierra Leone. The International Federation of the Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to support the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society to continue its work with communities at risk and provide cholera awareness and hygiene promotion activities.
For more information about the Red Cross and to make a donation to its work, go to redcross.org.uk
Anna is pictured during a deployment to Liberia in April this year at a British Red Cross project to support refugees from the Ivory Coast.