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Poor hygiene tied to five deaths in Kratie

AUTHORITIES in Kratie province say they are boosting efforts to prevent the spread of preventable illnesses caused by poor hygiene after five villagers died and nearly 100 others fell ill in suspected cases of cholera before the weekend.

Four villagers from Kratie’s Chet Borey district died Thursday after experiencing severe diarrhoea and vomiting, said Chhneang Vutha, deputy director of the Kratie provincial hospital. The deaths came a week after one person with the same symptoms died.

Total diarrhoea illnesses in the area rose to 96 by Friday, said Chhneang Vutha, who blamed the outbreak on impure drinking water and poor hygiene practices.

“We are cooperating with the health centre in the district to set up more places in order to help [villagers] in time in case they get severe diarrhoea and vomiting,” he said.

Although some officials suspect the cases may be linked to cholera, Chhneang Vutha said, it is still too early to say exactly what caused the deaths.

“I have not confirmed yet whether these are cholera cases or not,” he said.

Choung Sean Heak, chief of Kratie’s provincial police, said nearly 60 people in the district had to be transported to the provincial hospital for
treatment, while the rest were treated in their villages in Thmey commune.


He also blamed the illnesses on poor hygiene.
“Those people were suspected of having cholera because they live without taking care of their health and they drink bad water,” he said.
No further deaths or illnesses have been reported since Friday, he said.

In the meantime, authorities have stepped up prevention efforts aimed at avoiding future illnesses.

“I and the other medical officers went down to their houses to educate them to clean their bodies, to boil their drinking water and to not allow their children to go out during the daytime because it is very hot,” Choung Sean Heak said.

“Most of them are not very well-educated and poor, so it is very difficult for them to follow.”

The outbreak of illness has alarmed some nearby villagers. Yos Sat, who lives just outside Thmey commune, said he has urged his family members to avoid the area.

“I used to go to sell fish before those villagers died,” he said. “I will not go there for a period of time until there are no more cases.”

Up until last month, health officials had been reluctant to publicise cases of cholera, citing concerns about unnecessarily alarming the public.

In mid-February, authorities announced they had recorded 128 individual cases of cholera nationwide since last November.

Health experts see communicable diseases such as cholera as being directly linked to poor sanitation.

A 2008 study by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme estimated that almost 10,000 people a year in Cambodia die from sanitation
and hygiene-related diseases; two-thirds of the tally died from diarrhoea-related illnesses.

The Post was unable to reach officials with the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Diseases Control Department Sunday.



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