U.N. braces for malaria outbreak in Afghanistangreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
U.N. health agency bracing for malaria outbreak in Afghanistan
By Alexander G. Higgins, Associated Press, 10/30/2001 10:38
GENEVA (AP) The U.N. health agency said Tuesday that it fears there may be an outbreak of a deadly form of malaria in eastern Afghanistan.
There have been an increased number of cases of falciparum malaria one of the most dangerous forms of the disease because it can infect the brain said Gregory Hartl, spokesman for the World Health Organization.
Though no outbreak has yet been confirmed, ''there are higher numbers than usual compared with last year,'' Loretta Hieber-Girardet of WHO's emergency and humanitarian unit said.
October-November typically is the seasonal high point for malaria in the region, Hartl said. The cases have been found in the Nangrahar province near the eastern city of Jalalabad, he said.
WHO has been sending anti-malarial supplies to two hospitals in Jalalabad. Hieber-Girardet said it appeared there was sufficient medicine on hand unless there is a widespread outbreak.
Hartl said 269 children were hospitalized during September in the pediatric ward of Jalalabad Public Health Hospital, more than half with serious conditions, including malaria in the brain. Patients have already died of malaria in Jalalabad.
There was no notable outbreak of major disease among the refugee population in Pakistan since the U.S.-led airstrikes on Afghanistan began Oct. 7, Hartl said.
A report on a survey of the prevalence of malaria is expected in two or three days, Hartl said.
Worldwide, malaria kills more people than any other communicable disease except tuberculosis. The disease is spread by mosquitoes, and victims suffer fever, shivering, pain in the joints, convulsions and coma.
WHO estimates that malaria infects more than 300 million people a year and kills 1 million of them annually. Most who die are African children under age 5.
Afghanistan has 450,000 cases a year, mainly in the rice-growing areas of northern and eastern parts of the country, WHO said.
-- Anonymous, October 30, 2001