Ethiopia cholera death fears grow

January 23rd, 2007 Print Print Email Email

23 Jan 07 – BBC

Some 570 people have died in Ethiopia during what aid agencies say is a cholera outbreak. But Ethiopia’s health ministry is resisting pressure to declare it an emergency, despite evidence that the epidemic is sweeping the country.

Officials are instead describing it as acute watery diarrhoea.

A spokesperson for one aid agency said the government would not declare it was cholera because of the damage it could cause to the Ethiopian economy.

It could mean that cross-border trade would have to stop and markets close.

International agencies working in the country say 52,500 people have been infected with cholera – first reported in the south west last April.

“It needs to be declared an emergency because unless it is, the appropriate measures will not be taken. We need extra resources,” said an aid worker, who did not want to be named.

The disease has seriously affected Amhara, Tigray, Afar, Oromiya and the Somali Region.

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