ANGOLA— Angola has stepped up preparedness efforts to properly respond to the probable appearance of the disease in the country, following continuous cholera outbreaks in neighboring countries such as Zambia.
In recent weeks, the Ministry of Health, with assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), has produced a national cholera contingency plan outlining the major actions to be implemented to avoid and respond to an outbreak.
The health authorities are increasing disease surveillance and other response measures in high-risk areas near the border with Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Priority measures include ensuring that health facilities have case definitions, which are critical in evaluating whether a patient is linked to an epidemic under investigation, and that cholera treatment protocols are available in all health institutions.
Quick response teams in border districts are being trained, and health personnel are being provided with cholera treatment.
Oral rehydration salts and intravenous fluids are also being stockpiled at border health facilities.
Dr. Helga Freitas, the National Director of Public Health, is optimistic that these measures are on the right track, as numerous ministerial agencies, communities, and partners are all active in preparing activities in various locations in accordance with the national contingency plan.
Efforts are also underway to locate all untreated or dirty water sources, and health officials are distributing and chlorinating drinking water.
Raising public awareness about cholera prevention and the need of obtaining early treatment are among other preventive methods.
Dr. Humphrey Karamagi, Acting WHO Representative in Angola, has expressed confidence in the country’s efforts to prepare health workers, preposition essential kits, provide access to treated water, mobilize and engage families, and so on.
This would ensure effective surveillance, prevention, and response to a potential cholera outbreak, thereby increasing capacity in important locations, particularly along Angola’s borders.
A national team of 28 experts, including eight from WHO, is implementing the measures in ten of the country’s 18 provinces, with a particular emphasis on Cuando, Cubango, and Moxico provinces near the Zambian border, as well as Luanda Norte province, which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a cholera outbreak has been ongoing for several months.
Dr. Yaslava Kango, a public health specialist in Lunda-Norte province, emphasized the importance of ongoing activities. The refresher training, which included various social actors, allowed them to share experiences and work together to protect lives.
Angola has previously battled cholera epidemics, with no outbreaks occurring between 1995 and 2000, but a major outbreak in 2011 resulted in 2284 cases and 181 deaths.
The most recent outbreak, which occurred between 2016 and 2017, hit the provinces of Cabinda, Luanda, and Zaire, resulting in 252 cases and eleven deaths.