April 13, 2006

Cholera spreads beyond capital - Almost 500 new cases detected daily, says MSF

As the outbreak of cholera is rapidly spreading in Luanda and to other parts of the country, the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has urged the Angolan authorities to officially declare the outbreak and immediately take all the necessary measures needed for controlling it. According to the organisation, the total number of confirmed cases of cholera stands at 8.930, with 413 people reported to have died from the disease, 500 new cases have further been reported per day. "We are afraid the outbreak is out of control," says Richard Veerman, MSF head of mission in Angola. According to him, the authorities should increase the medical supplies and the number of health workers they made available for fighting cholera. Furthermore, they should do much more in providing safe drinking water to the population in and around affected areas.
Though collaboration with the Ministry of Health for administrative issues has been good, MSF urges the authorities to facilitate rapid clearance from customs of additional relief supplies. Materials such as Ringer lactate and chlorine need to be available immediately as MSF's stock is running low.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, almost 5.000 people have been treated by MSF in its five cholera treatment centers in Luanda. “Thus far we have been able to treat all cholera-infected people that have come to our centers," says Luis Encinas, medical emergency coordinator. "But the current trend of the epidemic suggests that we will see many more cases in the coming days and weeks. Our cholera centers are running at maximum capacity. Without a dramatically increased effort from others, starting with the authorities, we will probably see many more people fall ill and die." (Medecins Sans Frontiers, New York)

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