Since the earthquakes that killed nearly 40,000 people in southern Turkey and northern Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning about the health situation in Turkey, the earthquakes having damaged the pipe network of ten provinces in the south-east of the country. The Turkish Emergency Response Organization (AFDA) is to distribute bottled water to survivors and install temporary toilets. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also working on the spot to facilitate access to drinking water for displaced people.
The Americans from the Water Mission have been to several cities since February 9, from Kahramanmaras to Antakya, to carry out analyzes to determine the needs for depollution of springs near the camps. “The water present on the surface is unfit for consumption,” explains Daniel Droy, one of the NGO’s engineers on site. They will have to be treated in order to be drinkable. »
For the five million survivors gathered in makeshift camps, the lack of access to drinking water and toilets generates a significant epidemic risk. Cholera, dysentery, or typhoid fever are spread through water contaminated with a sick person’s feces. “If these bacteria are found in drinking water that is not microbiologically controlled, it can flare up,” warns Professor François-Xavier Weill, director of the National Reference Center for Vibrios and Cholera at the Institut Pasteur. Precarious hygienic conditions promote the circulation of bacteria. The doctor remembers with bitterness the year 2010, when some of the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti contracted cholera which killed several thousand people.
Cholera already present in Syria
Reported on Haitian soil by peacekeepers, the bacteria had spread there very quickly. However, the disease does not appear spontaneously and only spreads from a “zero patient”. No sick person has so far been reported on Turkish soil, but an epidemic has been ongoing since September 2022 in Syria