Massive Hepatitis E Outbreak Hits Refugees in Chad


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter

Africa map showing Chad Republic

Africa map showing Chad Repbulic



MONDAY, MAY 13, 2024.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded alarm over a devastating hepatitis E outbreak in the eastern Ouaddai province of Chad, affecting thousands of refugees and locals alike.


According to the report, a staggering 2,092 suspected cases, including seven deaths have been recorded from January 2 to April 28, 2024.


The outbreak has hit hard in the refugee camps and transit sites where a majority of the affected population are women and children fleeing the ongoing conflict in neighboring Sudan. Highlighting the vulnerability of these populations, the WHO states "Hepatitis E is often occurring in humanitarian settings such as in areas affected by conflict and in displacement sites."


Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, expressed grave concern over the situation saying, "Limited access to safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene increases the risk of hepatitis E virus outbreaks." He emphasized the urgent need for intervention as the most affected age groups are children aged 6-17 years and adults aged 18-59 years, representing a combined 77.1% of the suspected cases.


The WHO has deployed a multidisciplinary team to Adré, the epicenter of the outbreak to support the response efforts. "Prevention is the most effective approach against hepatitis E," the organization stressed, urging for the provision of safe drinking water, good hygiene practices and quality standards for public water supplies and sanitation services.


While the risk is assessed as high at the national level and moderate at the regional level, the WHO has classified the global risk as low. However, the organization remains vigilant, recognizing that the outbreak can spiral further in the absence of swift and coordinated action.


As the crisis unfolds, the international community's attention is firmly fixed on the plight of the refugees and the urgent need to contain the spread of hepatitis E in these vulnerable populations.



Source: World Health Organization Outbreak News.



Learn more about Hepatitis E



Published: May 13, 2024

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