R71m to com­bat deadly plague

CityPress - - News -

The World Bank has ap­proved an ad­di­tional $5 mil­lion (R71 mil­lion) fund­ing to help Mada­gas­car cope with its plague out­break. The World Bank has an­swered des­per­ate cries from aid work­ers for emer­gency fund­ing to tackle the “worst out­break in 50 years”.

Cases of the plague have shot up by 37% in less than a week, and the most re­cent statis­tics show at least 1 800 peo­ple are now in­fected and 127 deaths have been recorded.

As of Oc­to­ber 27, 1 554 re­ports have been made, of which 985 cases have been iden­ti­fied as pneu­monic plague, 230 cases of bubonic plague, and 339 still un­known.

The pneu­monic plague is a res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tion spread by breath­ing in air­borne droplets and is fa­tal in al­most 100% of cases. The bubonic plague is spread by in­fected rats via flea bite, and may pre­cede the on­set of pneu­monic plague.

The “truly un­prece­dented” out­break has prompted warn­ings that it could spread to at least nine nearby coun­tries, namely South Africa, the Sey­chelles, La Réu­nion, Mozam­bique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Co­moros and Mau­ri­tius.

Sci­en­tists pre­dict that this year’s out­break may es­ca­late, as it is stronger than the tra­di­tional bubonic form that re­sults in at least 400 cases ev­ery year in Mada­gas­car.

Fig­ures show that, if cur­rent trends con­tinue, the epi­demic could strike a fur­ther 20 000 peo­ple in just a mat­ter of weeks.

Pro­fes­sor John­joe McFad­den, a molec­u­lar ge­neti­cist at Sur­rey Univer­sity, said the plague was “scary” and was pre­dom­i­nantly a “dis­ease of the poor”.

He added: “It’s a ter­ri­ble dis­ease. It’s broadly caused more deaths of hu­mans than any­thing else; it’s a very deadly pathogen.”

It is be­lieved that the pneu­monic plague caused the Black Death and ap­prox­i­mately 50 mil­lion deaths in the 1300s. The World Bank said in a press re­lease that the funds would be used in the Emer­gency Na­tional Re­sponse plan.

The plan in­cludes the de­ploy­ment of per­son­nel to the front line in the af­fected dis­tricts; dis­in­fec­tion and fight against in­sects; clean­ing up of vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas; and for the pur­chase of fuel for am­bu­lances.

A Mala­gasy del­e­ga­tion headed by the fi­nances and bud­get min­is­ter, Von­intsalama An­dri­ambololona, had ap­pealed for fur­ther fi­nan­cial sup­port to com­bat the epi­demic.

“We are pleased that the World Bank has lis­tened to our call. The min­istry prom­ises to closely su­per­vise the good man­age­ment of such re­sources in or­der to quickly tame the epi­demic,” An­dri­ambololona said.

The World Bank coun­try man­ager in An­tana­narivo, Co­ralie Gev­ers, as­sured that the new fi­nan­cial sup­port would not af­fect the avail­abil­ity of other funds for Mada­gas­car’s so­cial and in­fra­struc­ture projects.

East African – Daily Mail and The

PHOTO: HENITSOA RAFALIA / ANADOLU AGENCY / GETTY IM­AGES

DES­PER­ATE MEA­SURES A worker from the depart­ment of emer­gency and re­sponse to epi­demics and dis­as­ters dis­in­fects a class­room in a school in An­tana­narivo, Mada­gas­car, as the plague spreads rapidly in cities across the coun­try

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