Cholera outbreak claims five children

June 18, 2009 (DVB), At least eight people, including five children, have died from an outbreak of cholera in central Burma's Magwe division, with the father of one deceased girl saying he could not afford her medical treatment.

Nearly 50 patients are awaiting intensive treatment at Magwe's Taungdwingyi town hospital. Three nearby villages have also been affected since the outbreak began on 8 June.

The father of a girl who died from the illness said he could not afford to take her to hospital as he didn't have enough money to cover the medical expenses.

"We knew she was suffering [from cholera] but business is not too good these days so I didn't have enough money," he said, adding that his two sons also have the illness.

Some locals are complaining that the government's local health departments are not doing enough to educate locals in stopping the disease from spreading, with outbreaks of cholera common during Burma's rainy season.

Taungdwingyi's district hospital was unavailable for comment.

A senior official from the government health ministry in Burma's capital Naypyidaw said that the ministry is aware of the outbreak and has issued an announcement on state newspapers.

"We are aware of the outbreak since it started on 8 June and that it's an emergency," the official said, under condition of anonymity.

"We are collecting statistics of the outbreak now and also putting a general awareness announcement in the newspapers, as well as sending [medical] teams to cooperate with the local health departments.

"The outbreak is mainly because people are drinking water out of ponds without boiling or purifying it. It is important to place emphasis on food and water hygiene at this time."

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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