Health, Africa

Ethiopia declares malaria outbreak, with 36 deaths in Oromia state in 2 months

Malaria outbreak occurs at time when nearly all of Begi district's 42 existing health facilities in conflict-torn West Wollega zone have been looted or damaged

Mohamed Dhaysane  | 30.09.2023 - Update : 01.10.2023
Ethiopia declares malaria outbreak, with 36 deaths in Oromia state in 2 months

Ethiopia declared a malaria outbreak in the Oromia regional state, with health officials on Saturday reporting that at least 36 people died in the last two months in the conflict-ridden West Wollega zone's Begi and Kondala districts.

Lata Banti, the head of the Begi district health care facility, confirmed the death of 36 people as the mosquito-borne parasitic infection continues to spread and urged for immediate medical supplies to save lives, local media reported.

The disease has been affecting people in 16 Oromia zones, with an increase of 168% this year compared to the previous year, the local media, citing Jawar Qasim, the head of the Oromia health department.

Faayo Abdii, a local health official in the region, told Anadolu by phone that there are shortages of medicines and oxygen as the disease has spread in many areas of the conflict-hit districts of Begi and Kondala in the Oromia regional state, where the majority of deaths have been reported.

The official did not provide an exact number of deaths or those affected by malaria in the two districts, but he did request assistance to deal with the emergency health situation.

The malaria outbreak occurred at a time when nearly all 42 existing health facilities in Begi, which has a population of over 100,000 people, have been looted or damaged, and patients with life-threatening medical conditions are unable to receive urgent care because health care centers are no longer operational, according to local media reports.

It is unclear why the health facilities were attacked and some were looted, but the region has seen violence, which the federal government blamed on Oromo movements. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands of families were displaced by the violence in Oromia.

The Oromia Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), both founded in the 1970s, are fighting the government over allegations of mistreatment of the local people.

The Ethiopian government now considers the OLF to be a legal political party, but the OLA to be a terrorist group.

The Horn of Africa nation is currently also experiencing a cholera outbreak that has already claimed the lives of more than 200 people as of August 2, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The OCHA said nearly 400 new patients were admitted to the Kumer Cholera Treatment Center in the second week of September, making a staggering 50% increase compared to the previous weeks.

According to the UN, cholera, an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria, has affected over 1.7 million people in the country.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported last week that at least 30 refugees had died of hunger and malnutrition in Ethiopia's Gambella region, and it called for the immediate resumption of nutritionally adequate food assistance to all refugee communities.

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