UNICEF announced on Tuesday that the cholera epidemic in Africa has killed 2,466 people and called for cross-border coordination so that medical supplies may be delivered as efficiently as possible.

Authorities are in a race against time to deal with thousands of cholera cases.

On their Web site, UNICEF cited problems having to do with access, ensuring staff presence in medical facilities, and establishing surveillance systems to monitor cases. 

The size and scale of the outbreaks means the region is facing one of the biggest epidemics in its history, a UNICEF spokesperson said, the Agence France-Presse reported.

The areas on the African continent that have seen the biggest increase in cholera cases this year are Chad, Cameroon, and western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to UNICEF.

Countries around the Lake Chad Basin, the West Congo Basin, and Lake Tanganyika have been hit by the cholera epidemic, according to UNICEF.

Some areas are seeing a death rate of 22 percent, the AFP reported.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea. The diarrhea rapidly dehydrates the body, so timing is crucial when delivering needed supplies, particularly liquids, to rehydrate.

Cholera mostly affects those who do not have access to clean water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 317,534 cholera cases were reported in 2010. Thirty-six percent of those cases came from Africa. More than 7,000 deaths due to cholera were reported globally that year, the WHO said on their Web site.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have this year outbreaks in provinces that we have not seen in the last 10 years, a WHO spokesperson said, the AFP reported. There we see a case fatality ratio much higher than in provinces where cholera was endemic like north and south Kivu.