K OMPONG SPEU - About 20 villagers have died, and another 200 become sick, from
chronic diarrhea in this province since the start of the year. A provincial
health official blamed poor quality water and food for the outbreak of diarrhea,
which has been widely misreported as a cholera epidemic.
administrative chief of Kompong Speu's health service, said the problem was
primarily due to a shortage of food and water, though there had been other
causes. In one case, many villagers in Trapeng Pil commune, in Samrong Torng
district, fell sick with severe diarrhea from food poisoning after eating at a
local wedding. She was unable to say whether anybody died.
Samrong Torng, and neighboring Oural and Phnom Srouch districts, dry-season
drought and a shortage of food had caused deaths from diarrhea.
without enough food usually ate anything they could find, even if it made them
sick, she said.
"They don't care much about what they eat and drink, they
just care about whether they have food and water or not."
She was angry
that the diarrhea problems had been misreported by news media as being a cholera
epidemic. The reports had led to government ministers traveling to the province
to investigate, only to be angry that they had been
According to the Ministry of Health, there had been a few
cases of cholera symptoms - but no deaths - in Kompong Speu, Takeo, and Kompong