Addis Ababa is battling with an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), which has already affected thousands of people in the capital and caused several deaths. Three local hospitals, Zweditu, Ras Desta and Yekatit, have set up tents to accommodate patients and residents have been advised to take precautionary measures such as washing their hands frequently, avoiding raw food and boiling drinking water.
The outbreak, which began in remote rural areas before spreading to the capital, is the result of a combination of factors including poor hygiene and sanitation and contaminated water or food. Health officials have warned that the situation could deteriorate with the onset of the seasonal rains, which typically wreak havoc with the sewerage system. The problem is compounded by widespread malnutrition in Ethiopia due to prolonged drought, which weakens the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infection.