Afghan gov't takes action against spread of cholera in capital

News and Press Release
Originally published
KABUL, Jun 15, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Afghan government has taken a range of measures including hanging posters, giving advice through TV and installing separate tents in hospitals to prevent the cholera epidemic from spreading in capital Kabul, a health official said Wednesday.

Abdullah Fahim, an official with the Afghan Public Health Ministry, however, denied media reports that the epidemic has infected over 2,000 people in Kabul in the past two weeks and that the disease could spread quickly throughout the city's 4 million population.

"More than 2,400 people have had the symptoms of diarrhea, vomitting and others since May 22. Thirty persons have been confirmed to be infected with cholera, and four of them have died of the disease," Fahim said.

Nobody can say that cholera has spreaded in large scale since the infection cases have come from different parts of Kabul, he said, adding the government has taken measures to curb the disease.

In Kabul, many posters have been hung up in streets printed with such words as "Clean your hands before eating," "Drink boiled water" and so on to remind people of self-sanitation.

TV programs about hygiene will be be broadcast to help people turn away from getting infected with the disease, and the medical department has advised people to drink boiled water, and thoroughly clean vegetable before eating for prevention, Fahim said.

As a kind of seasonal epidemic, cholera breaks out each year in Afghanistan. Fahim said that compared with last year, cases of cholera this year are only half in number.

Murad Mamozai, deputy head of the infectious hospital Antoni, said they have received about 650 patients with the symptoms of diarrhea since May 22, and have set up new and separate tents for them. "Until now none of them has been confirmed of being infected with cholera," he said.

There are seven tents outside the main building of the hospital arranged for the suspected cholera patients, and about five or six persons in each tent.

"Most of them were sent into the hospital with the symptoms of diarrhea and vomit. We have arranged doctors and nurses to give them overall examination and good care," said one doctor.

Cholera is a major epidemic especially in some developing countries like Afghanistan, where sanitary equipment is not good enough. Every summer, cholera will occur in the country, leaving hundreds infected and dozens dead.

The bacteria attack the intestine and cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. An infected person can even die within several hours if not provided with timely and effective treatment.