Congo

Congo: Poor health system catalysing cholera in southwest

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BRAZZAVILLE, 17 May 2007 (IRIN) - Lack of appropriate health and sanitation facilities and poor sensitisation of local communities have encouraged the spread of cholera in the Bouenza area of Congo, officials said.

According to an epidemiological bulletin published by Congolese health authorities, 21 cases of the disease have been reported in Loutété, of whom seven died. Another 207 cases have been reported in Loudima, of whom eight died, since the beginning of May.

The bulletin was produced by the national cholera crisis committee headed by Jeannine Bahou. The most affected areas are more than 200km southwest of the capital, Brazzaville.

In January, the Congolese health ministry reported cases of cholera in Pointe-Noire, the country's second-largest town of 800,000 people. Later, the disease spread to Brazzaville and other southern regions of the country. At least 6,480 people were affected in Pointe-Noire, of whom 62 died.

At the time, the outbreak was thought to have been caused by heavy rains and poor hygiene conditions in Pointe-Noire, as well as via passengers on the regular air flights that link the two cities.

"The last cases occurred in Brazzaville on 5 April and in the Kouilou department where Pointe-Noire is located on 29 April," the bulletin noted on 15 May.

Apart from setting up a crisis committee, the government has deployed sensitisation teams to affected areas to raise awareness, and has opened special centres to take care of patients.

Lmm/re/mw

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