As Uganda confirms active cholera outbreak, UNHCR and health actors alarmed at deteriorating situation in Kyangwali

Current 4% case fatality rate demands an extraordinary response


Round-the-clock surveillance results in UNHCR's Public Health Officer in Hoima, Dr. Gerald Naluwairo, administering treatment to a young patient at 3 a.m. He was identified during house-to-house calls and checks for symptoms like high fever, diarrhoea and severe dehydration. (UNHCR/Dr. Julius Kasozi)  © 

KAMPALA, Uganda -- UNHCR and health actors are deeply alarmed that the deteriorating situation in the Kyangwali area, as Uganda’s Ministry of Health confirmed an active outbreak of cholera. The Ministry immediately deployed a Rapid Response Team of 10 cholera control specialists and medical supplies to complement ongoing responses efforts.

“As of 22 February 2018, we have identified 668 cholera cases in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement,” said Dr. Julius Kasozi, UNHCR’s Public Health Officer. “Of these, 26 died, giving a case fatality rate of nearly four per cent.” Dr. Kasozi explained that a case fatality rate of less than two percent is normally considered acceptable, and that the present trend demands an extraordinary response. The Ministry of Health also confirmed one cholera case in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement.

Investigations conducted by the Ministry of Health indicate that the refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo contract the infection from their places of origin and along the way to Uganda.

Dr. Kasozi confirmed that some of the patients crossing into Uganda over Lake Albert by boat present symptoms like diarrhoea and severe dehydration on arrival. “It is possible that bacteria are spread through disease carriers who do not present symptoms, or through unhygienic practices like open defecation and drinking unsafe water from the lake,” he said.

A multi-agency Cholera Task Force convened by the Ministry of Health and UNHCR is meeting daily to coordinate the response. Partners are providing health personal, medical supplies and logistics support. Several technical teams are working at the landing site on the lakeshore, and in reception areas in Kyangwali settlement, conducting medical screening and treatment, community mobilization, clean water provision and hygiene promotion. There are 156 community health workers supporting the effort in the refugee settlement.

Two 50- and 30- bed cholera treatment units have established in Kasongo and Sebagoro respectively. Eight ambulances have been deployed to refer cases to the treatment units for medical care. WHO and UNICEF have donated two cholera kits with essential supplies for managing cases. UNHCR has made health workers, medicines and medical supplies available for the response.

Surveillance activities include house-to-house identification, referrals, reporting of cases, and analyzing of data, sources and trends. To strengthen preventive measures at community level, we are establishing 10 fixed oral rehydration corners at various points. Health partners will erect oral rehydration therapy corners at all primary health care facilities and feeding centers.

This year more than 42,000 people have crossed Lake Albert, bringing the total number of Congolese refugees in Uganda to over 251,000. UNHCR, OPM and partners are relocating new arrivals from Kisoro, Mitondo and Sebagoro to Kyangwali and Kyaka II Refugee Settlements in Mid-West Uganda, as well as providing protection and life-saving assistance and services.

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For more information, please contact:

Rocco Nuri, Reporting Officer, UNHCR Kampala,, +256 775 827 388


Duniya Aslam Khan, Spokesperson, UNHCR Uganda, Email: | Tel: +256 772701101