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Poor hygeine blamed for M’kiri deaths

THREE men in Mondulkiri province died on Friday after contracting acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), and five others have been sent to hospital, officials said.

Len Vanna, head of the Keo Seima district council, said another death had been recorded last Wednesday.

He said the five hospitalised patients – including his 39-year-old brother – had been sent to hospital in Vietnam.

“The five other villagers were sent to Vietnam, which is close to the border, including my brother, whose life probably can’t be saved because his situation is very critical,” he said.

The three men who died on Friday were all in their 50s, he said, and added that their illnesses were likely the result of poor hygiene and a lack of sanitation among villagers when consuming food and water.

Meanwhile, officials in Pursat province said Sunday that a separate outbreak of AWD in Koh Andeth district led to the hospitalisation of 24 people, 18 of whom are in critical condition.

Keo Sangphalbon, the director of the referral hospital in Pursat’s Bakan district, said officials there planned to test samples from the deceased.

“We haven’t taken their tests yet, but provincial health officials have been to the place and concluded that it is a serious [type of] diarrhoea which is similar to cholera,” he said.

The latest reports continue an ongoing spate of AWD outbreaks in a handful of provinces across the country, including one that claimed two more lives in Ratanakkiri last week.

Hoy Vannara, head of Ratanakkiri’s Communicable Diseases Control Department, said Sunday that the latest deaths brought the toll for the year to 22 in that province, and that there had been 700 reported cases.

Dr Nima Asgari, public health specialist for the World Health Organization, said Sunday that the government has taken significant steps to curb diarrhoea outbreaks, but noted that there are significant challenges to ensuring the campaign’s success.

“At the moment [the most important thing] is to get the right messages to the write people at the right time and that is always the problem with health campaigns,” he said.

“The government is doing a lot, and when people actually get to health centres, very few die. The problem is making sure they get to the health centres early enough,” he added.

Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Health, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

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