Angola intensifies anti-cholera war

Fourteen of the country’s 18 provinces are under siege from the disease and the government of Angola and other stakeholders are fighting around the clock to contain the outbreak.

The deputy minister of Health, Jose Van-Dunem, said during a meeting attended by the prime minister, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, and the governors of the country’s 18 provinces, that the government was taking additional measures to bring the epidemic under control.

Jose Van-Dunem, who was transmitting to the Press the decisions from the meeting, said the measures focused mainly on the sanitation of the environment, continued improvement to the quality of the water supplied to the populations, waste collection and treatment and others.

He reiterated the words of the President of the Republic, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who called for a due attention to the ongoing epidemic, through a major involvement of the provincial governors.<BR>
Jose Van-Dunem said the epidemics was currently dropping, thanks mainly to the dry season that has started in the country, a reinforced supply of drinking water to the populations and a better knowledge of the measures to prevent the disease.

The deputy minister said that rather than just assessing the situation, the meeting served for the creation of conditions to prevent a new outbreak or equal consequences, should it occur again in the country.

Statistics released by the Health Ministry indicate that since the upsurge was declared in the country on 13 February this year, around 44 000 cases of cholera were recorded until this week, killing nearly 1 700.

Luanda, with 22 146 cases and 287 deaths, was the most affected province, followed by Benguela with 7 850 cases and 500 deaths.

Huambo, with 15 cases and a toll of five, is the least hit. Bie has had only three deaths, out of 18 cases.

Lunda-Sul, Kuando-Kubango, Moxico and Cunene provinces were not mentioned in the report.

The meeting was also attended by the ministers of Territory Administration, Health and Energy and Waters, Virgilio Fontes Pereira, Sebastiao Veloso and Botelho de Vasconcelos, respectively and the deputy ministers of Health and Finance, Jose Van-Dunem and Job Gra’a, respectively.

Meanwhile, the unusual outbreak of the polio virus in Namibia, a country previously free from the disease, arrived from neighbouring Angola, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

In a statement released in Geneva last week, the WHO confirmed that at least three people in the southern African nation had contacted the paralysing virus that normally afflicts children.

The United Nations agency said a total of 34 people – most of them aged 20 or older ‘ were suspected to have been infected with polio in Namibia. Seven among them have died.

“Genetic sequencing confirms that the virus is consistent with an importation from Angola, of Indian origin,” the WHO said in a statement.

It said the first person infected in Namibia was thought to be a 39-year-old man who saw an onset of paralysis on May 8.

Though routine polio immunisation among children is now common in Namibia, the WHO said it was likely that the adults who have fallen ill were not vaccinated as children. Namibia had been polio-free since 1996.

The WHO missed its target of stopping the spread of polio, a viral disease of the brain and spinal cord that can cause lifelong paralysis within hours, by the end of last year.

Four countries – Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – have never managed to stamp out the disease. Angola was declared polio-free in 2001 but was re-infected with a strain of the virus from India last year.

June 2006
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