Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Clean water not "Job One" in Kabul

American military forces are allegedly in control of the Afghan capital Kabul, so it is difficult to understand how or why the city is in danger of being engulfed in a cholera epidemic:
An outbreak of cholera in the Afghan capital has killed at least eight people, is feared to have infected more than 2,000 others and is on the verge of turning into an epidemic, a senior epidemiologist working to stem the spread of the disease warned Tuesday.

Health officials in the war-shattered city of 4 million, where rubbish and sewage fill roadside ditches and water wells are polluted, disputed the figures and claimed the threat had been contained. Nevertheless, dozens of tents were being pitched in hospital gardens to isolate patients should the number of cases spike.

"An epidemic is about to break out here," said Fred Hartman, an epidemiologist and technical director for a U.S. Agency for International Development-backed program, the Rural Expansion of Afghanistan's Community-based Health Care. "Cholera is an explosive disease. As soon as water sources are contaminated, it spreads." (USA Today)
Cholera is an easily preventable disease, not contagious and usually spread by contaminated water. Given the incredibly large amount of time, effort and money spent in attacking the former government and trying to pacify the current resistance, it is amazing how equivalent investments to ensure clean water have not been made in one of the few enclaves where US forces are in control.

I guess it's all about priorities.