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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
Disease will ravage famine torn Africa
Anne Lloyd
Anne Lloyd has been in Southern Africa fact finding

Fourteen million people - half of them children - face starvation in Southern Africa.

But freelance health worker Anne Lloyd who has just come back after a three-week fact finding mission to the region for Oxfam, warns that poor sanitation and disease will account for many of the deaths.

She said cholera, malaria, diarrhoea, TB and measles will kill the already weakened people, particularly those who are already suffering from Aids/HIV.

Her mission was to study conditions in Zambia and Malawi and she said she had been deeply concerned by what she found.


It is a vicious circle with malnutrition and infection

Anne Lloyd

"Both areas are a concern because of the food shortages and over the next few months this is going to get worse.

Food

"I went to a village in Zambia where there was a compound with a set of grain stores, but these are now empty and they won't be having any more food coming in until next year apart from western donations."

She said the health resources in the region were already overstretched coping with Aids/HIV victims and that they would find it difficult to cope with epidemics of diseases like cholera.

Maize crop
Famine victims are eating maze shoots before they grow

She said cholera was particularly prevalent in Malawi and that poor sanitation was bound to send death rates soaring.

"They get it there year after year.

"The most severely affected are those with HIV/Aids and these people are going to be more vulnerable.

"There is a huge HIV/Aids problem and a large majority of the people do not know they are HIV positive.

"It is a vicious circle with malnutrition and infection and then there is an underlying circle of Aids and HIV."

Hygiene

Hygiene is also a top concern in the region, few areas have toilets and the use of bush toilets can accelerate the spread of cholera, dysentery and diarrhoea.

Water is scarce and what is left is often of poor quality and leads to disease among the already weakened population.

Famine struck people
Already weakened people can not fight disease

Another problem particularly in the rural areas of Zambia, is that of measles.

Too few parents have been getting their children immunised and there are fears that there could be an outbreak soon.

"I would be concerned about the coverage rates. They only need a little thing like a measles epidemic to have an effect."

She said that she had been liaising with UNICEF to try and ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated against measles.

They are also ensuring that community health visitors get an update in training to cope with cholera.

"Our message is to take action now. Our emphasis is very much on prevention."


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Horn of Africa

Southern Africa

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See also:

26 Jul 02 | Africa
11 Jul 02 | Africa
06 Jun 02 | Africa
30 May 02 | Africa
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