WHO Data Shows Angola Significantly Reduced Cholera Incidence
WHO statistics released on Monday show that Angola has significantly reduced the number of cholera cases this year compared with data from the previous year, AFP/IOL reports. Since the beginning of the year, the WHO has recorded cholera in five of Angola's 18 provinces with 681 cases and three deaths. During the first five months of 2008, 7,740 cases of cholera and 198 deaths were recorded.
The drop comes despite major flooding, which usually increases the risk of water-borne diseases, and cholera is most prevalent in Angola between January and mid-May during the rainy season, AFP/IOL reports. The reduction is the result of educational efforts and improved sanitation, according to the WHO.
"Since cholera is mainly transmitted by contaminated water and food, as well as by poor environmental management, improvement made by the local government at these services had a great impact in the control of the disease," a WHO spokesperson said.
However Karen Hvid, the International Federation of the Red Cross' Angola representative, said that the data covers cases recorded at hospitals, which excludes many patients who never receive treatment. Although these "figures certainly show a decrease," she said that "many communities" don't have easy access to hospitals. "This is a remarkable improvement. Basic community education by the Ministry of Health, the Red Cross and others in partnership has played a key role in raising awareness about preventing cholera," Hvid said.
According to UNICEF, 10.5 million Angolans more than half the population have no access to sanitation, but the government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to increase access (AFP/IOL, 5/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.