alexa US health official urges transparency in Tanzania mystery death - Daily Nation

US health official urges transparency in Tanzania mystery death

Tuesday September 17 2019

The East African region

The East African region has been on high alert over Ebola outbreak in DR Congo which has killed 2,500 people since August last year. PHOTO | GOOGLE MAP 

ELIZABETH MERAB
By ELIZABETH MERAB
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The US has called for transparency from Tanzanian officials in the case of a patient who recently died after suffering Ebola-like symptoms.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday asked Tanzanian government to disclose information about a woman who died from what the World Health Organisation (WHO) termed as an unknown illness.

Mr Azar said that despite reporting that one person died, the country has refused to avail samples from the deceased for testing, nor has it made available other information about them.

"We call upon the government of Tanzania to comply with its obligation under the International Health Regulations immediately with transparent disclosure of information and full cooperation with the international health community to allow for independent verification as to the circumstances of that individual’s death," said Mr Azar in a teleconference held on Monday.

WHO last week sent a team to Tanzania to urgently investigate a ‘rumour’ linked to the death of a medical doctor over an unknown illness. Two cases from Mwanza and Dar es Salaam suspected to have contracted the Ebola virus were reported.

The East African region has been on high alert over the ongoing outbreak of the viral disease in DR Congo which has so far killed 2,500 people and infected 3,000 since August last year. Cases have also been reported in borders towns of Uganda and Rwanda.

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According to an internal WHO document obtained, the patient, a 34-year-old woman, died on Sunday, September 8 and was buried the same day. The victim was a student in central Uganda before returning to Tanzania on August 22, according to the document.

“This mysterious disease has to be investigated and samples have to be tested. We couldn’t rule out any of the viral haemorrhagic fevers and the investigation will continue,” Dr Yonas Woldemariam, the WHO representative in Uganda, said Monday.