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Nearly 1,000 Dead of Cholera in Angola

The cholera outbreak in Angola is now 10 weeks old. The medical aid group Doctors without Borders says there have been 20,000 cases and nearly one thousand deaths. Hundreds of new cases are reported each day. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by contaminated water.

Richard Veerman is the head of mission for Doctors without Borders in Angola. From Luanda, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the cholera outbreak.

“It’s still quite bad. It’s showing even more in other provinces now also. This week on certain days we have seen almost a thousand cases a day and in some days more than 30 deaths. Today (Thursday) was a little bit low, with 672 cases for a whole country, mainly because Luanda was a little bit down…. The past few weeks still very high and the total number of cases now is more than 20,000, with 941 deaths in total.”

Several weeks ago, Doctors without Borders called for a major education campaign to warn Angolans about contaminated water and an effort to distribute more clean water. Veerman says, “Since then there’s been a little bit of movement, but not enough in our opinion. That’s why we’ve been again saying the collaboration we have with the Angolan Minister of Health is very good, but we have been calling upon the government to align among all the involved ministries to do more to make sure that clean water is available in all the affected areas.”

He says Angola hasn’t seen a cholera outbreak of major concern in about ten years, and the country is still rebuilding after many years of civil war. He says that’s why the response to the outbreak is slower than needed.