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Three killed by diarrhoea in Ratanakkiri

AT least three deaths in Ratanakkiri province due to acute watery diarrhoea have been reported in recent days, health officials said yesterday, bringing the total number of people who have died in the province since April to 32.

Tha Bunthak, deputy director of the provincial Health Department, said officials had recorded three new deaths in Ta Veng and O’Chum districts.
These included a 50-year-old woman who died last Monday as well as a 20-year-old man who died on Friday.

Since April, the province had recorded 1,300 cases of acute diarrhoea, he said, and added that the current outbreak appeared to be the most significant in Ratanakkiri since 1999, when 100 people died.

“Diarrhoea is seriously affecting people in this province,” said Tha Bunthak, who blamed the cases on poor sanitation.

Meanwhile, Svay Rieng provincial hospital had experienced a new outbreak of acute diarrhoea, with 15 patients being admitted since Wednesday with serious cases, said Kuch Sipha, the hospital’s deputy superintendent. Kuch Sipha said doctors had concluded that the patients contracted diarrhoea because of a lack of proper sanitation that led some villagers to consume contaminated water.

Officials with the Health Ministry’s Department of Communicable Disease Control could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Dr Nima Asgari, a public health specialist working for the World Health Organisation, said he did not have immediate access to statistics for cholera or diarrhoea cases nationwide.

He said, though, that he had seen a general increase in cases this year over last year.

“We do know that there is just more going around this year; that’s for sure,” Asgari said.

Diarrhoea outbreaks have been blamed in part on the late dry season, when communal water sources are used frequently and clean rainwater is not readily available.

But it was possible that improved surveillance methods were contributing to the increase in reported diarrhoea cases this year, Asgari said.

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