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Cuba

In Havana, Deadly Cholera Outbreak Amidst Cuba's Tourist Season

EL NUEVO HERALD(Cuba), CLARIN (Argentina)

Worlcrunch

HAVANA – After remaining cholera-free for more than a century, Cuba is suffering its second bout of cholera in six months.

The disease has infected more than 50 people in Havana, the government admitted, and, according to non-confirmed information, one death. In July, three people died of cholera in the east of the country.

Authorities have not made the number of deaths public, but a woman living in Havana said her 45-year-old son died of cholera a few days ago. According to El Nuevo Herald, the National Director of Epidemiology Manuel Santin Peña said the infection had not propagated to other regions and that the government was not lying about the number of cases.

This is the first bout of cholera that has hit the Cuban capital in 130 years. In July 2012, though, there was a serious outbreak of cholera east of the island. 417 people were contaminated and three died from the disease, in a region about 800km from Havana. On Aug. 28, authorities announced that the outbreak had been eradicated.

Cholera is transmitted through a bacteria found in water or contaminated produce, explains Clarin. It can kill a person in a matter of hours through severe dehydration, but is treatable if the person seeks prompt medical attention.

The cholera outbreak coincides with the last high tourism season, which lasts from December to April and brings thousands of Canadians, Europeans and Latin Americans to the island. Clarin reports that some European diplomats were contemplating the possibility of emitting travel warnings to discourage their fellow citizens from visiting the island.

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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