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Angola's Health Service Is In Bad Shape: Minister

by VR Sreeraman on July 7, 2009 at 3:22 PM
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 Angola's Health Service Is In Bad Shape: Minister

Angola's health minister admitted on Monday that the country's health service was not working properly weeks after a youth collapsed and died outside a television station after having been refused treatment.

In an interview with public radio Monday, Jose Van-Dunem said: "Luanda has grown enormously, it is now a city of five million people, and the number of health services has not grown at the same rate."

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"The health services we have at the moment do not match the demand from the people, but we are working to improve our capacity."

Van-Dunem's comments follow the televised death last month of a 20-year-old from meningitis.

The youth's mother had taken him to the Americo Boavida hospital in Luanda where he was turned away. He collapsed outside the gates of the national television station TPA, which is near the hospital, where his death was filmed.
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TPA reported that the hospital claimed it had insufficient beds to receive the sick youth. His mother requested an ambulance to take him to another hospital, but they asked her for money to do so.

His death sparked outrage in the media with calls for criminal proceedings against the health staff involved, while the health ministry has instituted an inquiry into the matter.

Van-Dunem said more community-based services were key to the government's plan, with further investment to improve local health posts and relieve pressure on the central hospitals.

Teams of doctors from Cuba, a long-time ally of the Southern African country, were also part of the improvement strategy.

Since Angola emerged from three decades of bloody civil war in 2002, it has become one of the world's fastest growing economies, thanks to its large oil reserves.

But it continues to have some of the worst social indicators, with one in four children dying before their fifth birthday.

The years of conflict destroyed hospitals, schools and roads and the government is now in a period of reconstruction with more than one third of the 2009 budget directed to social investment.

Source: AFP
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