Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Health experts at odds over alleged outbreak of cholera in provinces

Health experts at odds over alleged outbreak of cholera in provinces

Health experts at odds over alleged outbreak of cholera in provinces

HEALTH experts are at odds over the possibility of a cholera epidemic breaking out in the Kingdom, with Ministry of Health officials downplaying the threat and doctors from a Phnom Penh pediatric hospital saying cases could triple by March if the government does not intervene to stop the disease from spreading.

Dr Beat Richner, director of the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh, said Tuesday that the disease had been spreading for months, beginning with two confirmed cases in November 2009, followed by 10 in December, 53 in January, and 19 so far this month at his hospital alone.

He said his hospital had treated 120 suspected cholera patients in January, and that all cases had been reported to the Ministry of Health.

But Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at Ministry of Health, declined to say whether cholera cases had been confirmed, and argued that the distinction between diarrhoea and cholera was unimportant.

“Diarrhoea and cholera have the same treatment,” he said. “We are not interested in whether it is diarrhoea or cholera. The important thing is that we treat them by instructing them to drink a lot of water when they get serious diarrhoea or by sending them to referral hospitals.”

Richner said health officials were guilty of spreading misinformation about cholera, which he said should be treated very differently from seasonal diarrhoea. Suspected cholera patients, he said, should be admitted to hospital and given antibiotics immediately.

He added that cholera can kill very quickly, and called for a state of emergency to be declared in areas where a high number of diarrhoea and suspected cholera cases had been reported, including Kandal, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces, as well as the capital.

“In the worst cases, a child can die within two hours of beginning to vomit or having diarrhoea,” he said.

Diarrhoea and a handful of suspected cholera cases have been reported widely in recent weeks, and the Ministry of Health launched a nationwide sanitation and hygiene awareness campaign last week. The campaign has involved placing officials on the ground in every province to treat cases of diarrhoea.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman