February 27, 2003

Cholera epidemic feared to worsen

The Mozambican health authorities fear a further spread of the cholera epidemic that is now affecting seven of the country's 11 provinces, including Maputo city, as a result of the current rains, added to the poor sanitation conditions, particularly in urban areas, reports Thursday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias".

To face this threat, the health authorities have pledged to redouble their efforts in educating the public on how to avoid the disease. But health officials stress that, if cholera is to be prevented, the task should not be left to the health services alone, but should involve other entities, such as the municipal authorities and the water supply bodies, which should cooperate in their specific areas.

The cholera epidemic has claimed about 40 lives countrywide since September, when the first case in this outbreak was reported.

The affected provinces are Cabo Delgado, Nampula, and Niassa in the north, Manica and Sofala in the centre, and Maputo city and province in the south.

Maputo city health director Olivia Ferreira said that 70 patients are at the moment hospitalised in the wards of the Cholera Treatment Centre, at the Mavalane General Hospital. She explained that this centre is to serve not only the Maputo city population, but also the neighbouring city of Matola, where cases have been diagnosed from the suburbs of Machava, Infulene, and Liberdade.

As for Maputo city, the most affected suburbs are Hulene, Chamanculo, Mafalala, Aeroporto, and Jorge Dimitrov, where poor sanitary conditions are coupled with defective water supply.

To deal with cholera cases, special wards have been set up in other provinces, and activists are being trained for civic education against the disease.

The health authorities say that they are ready, in terms of medicine and preventive actions, to face an eventual worsening of the situation. (AIM, Maputo)

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