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1,200 Dead From Cholera Outbreak in Angola


More than 34,000 people have fallen ill and 1,200 have died from a massive cholera outbreak in Angola. The international aid organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres, says the epidemic is largely caused by poor water supply and sanitation in country's capital, Luanda. It is still unclear whether the outbreak has reached its peak.

The disease, which first appeared in the Angolan capital in February, is now killing more than 30 people a day and is spreading to other parts of the country.

Already more than 1,200 people have died and Medecins Sans Frontieres says the outbreak is not yet under control.

MSF says the main reason for the disease's appearance and rapid spread is poor sanitation and a hugely inefficient water supply.

David Weatherill, MSF director of water and sanitation, says Luanda's population has tripled in the past decade and little has been done to meet the increasing water and sanitation needs.

"Twenty litres, which is the minimum standard, they are paying half a dollar per day. Seventy per cent of the population of Angola are living on less than $1 a day," said Weatherill. "Most of this population is living on a huge rubbish dump without any basic services provided, so within this environment it's really the perfect conditions for a cholera outbreak to start and to spread like wildfire throughout the whole city."

MSF has set up treatment centers in all the affected areas, but says the death toll is rising because people do not have the means to protect themselves because the water provided is not adequately sanitized.

The aid organization expects the current outbreak to wane with the end of the wet season, next month, but warns that more outbreaks will occur in the future, if money is not is not spent on upgrading infrastructure.

And, MSF's Head of Mission in Angola Richard Veerman says the government must take responsibility for that.

"There are certain plans already been introduced since 2003, but practically nothing has happened," said Veerman. "And, we all know that oil prices are up, I don't have to tell anybody. Angola has a lot of oil and also revenue from diamonds so in our modest opinion, we think that some of those resources should be used to improve the water supply and sewage systems in Luanda."

Last week, the Angolan government set up a committee to tackle the situation; but, more than 12 weeks into the outbreak, there are no immediate signs of a long-term solution.

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