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Growing Cholera Outbreak in Angola
MSF Urges Government to Take Stronger Action
Luanda, Angola, April 7, 2006 — With the number of cholera cases increasing rapidly in and around Angola's capital Luanda, the international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on Angolan authorities to quickly provide more resources to contain the growing outbreak.
In Luanda, MSF has opened a cholera treatment center (CTC) inside the shantytown of Boa Vista and two others in the Cazenga and Kilamba Kaxi areas. Since the outbreak was declared on February 13, more than 2,500 people have been treated in the MSF centers.
"All of our centers are running at maximum capacity," says Richard Veerman, MSF's head of mission in Angola. MSF is now preparing to open an additional CTC in the city's Sambizanga slum, which will increase capacity by 200 beds.
"Yesterday in Boa Vista, all 180 beds were occupied. This morning we managed to add 20 more. Yet, right now we are forced to have patients share their beds," says Veerman.
Containing the outbreak has become more difficult as cholera has now spread to areas outside of Luanda. In Cuanza Norte province, approximately 500 cases have been reported, including 49 deaths; in Benguela province, 676 cases have been reported, along with 63 deaths; and in Bengo province, 790 cases have been reported, with 33 deaths. Since the outbreak began, official figures report than 4,500 people have been infected with the disease and 205 have died.
To stop the spread of the disease and to treat patients, more resources need to be mobilized quickly. At present, there is a lack of Angolan health workers, ambulances to transport infected patients to treatment sites, and an adequate trucking system to provide safe drinking water to the population. The MSF team is also facing customs delays that hold back the deployment of critically needed medical and logistical supplies.
"On top of all these difficulties we find that many people do not reach our centers early enough, either because they do not find transportation or because they are simply scared of moving around the city after nightfall, when the streets are unsafe," says Veerman.
Cholera in Angola
What is cholera?