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Cholera still spreading: doctor

THE director of a Phnom Penh paediatric hospital on Wednesday said cholera cases were still on the rise nationwide and blasted public health officials for not doing enough to stop the spread of the disease.

In an open letter published in local newspapers, Dr Beat Richner, director of the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh, said his hospital alone had treated 158 suspected cholera patients so far this month, 65 of whom had tested positive for the disease.

On February 10, Kantha Bopha reported 25 confirmed cholera cases for the month, meaning that 40 new cases have been identified in the last two weeks. Richner blamed the spread on inaction by public health authorities. “Up to now, the measures in public health were not efficient,” he said.

Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Communicable Diseases Control Department, said Wednesday that he was unable to provide updated figures for confirmed cholera cases nationally because he had just returned from a trip abroad.
After initially refusing to confirm that there had been any cases, the ministry earlier this month said there had been 128 cases of cholera since November 2009.
Ly Sovann disputed allegations that the ministry had not effectively tackled the problem, pointing to public education campaigns and the provision of sanitation toilets for more than 32,000 families.
“The level of understanding about clean water and toilets has changed, and [people] have changed habits that easily caused them to get infected,” he said.

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