Have we got an ambassador to Madagascar?

If we haven’t perhaps Murray McCully might like to put Trevor Mallard’s name forward as Ambassador to Madagascar.

His expertise in dealing with the feral animals in Labour could prove invaluable.

Madagascar is at risk of a major outbreak of bubonic plague unless it can clean up its rat-infested jails, health experts have warned.

The Indian Ocean island became the most severely affected country in the world last year, with 256 cases and 60 fatalities from the disease known as the “black death” when it swept through Europe in the 14th century.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Malagasy prison authorities have launched a campaign against rodents in Antanimora prison in the capital, Antananarivo, where 3,000 inmates are behind bars.

Christoph Vogt, head of the ICRC delegation in Madagascar, said: “The chronic overcrowding and the unhygienic conditions in prisons can bring on new cases of the disease. That’s dangerous not only for the inmates but also for the population in general.” 

An average of 500 cases have been recorded on the island every year since 2009. October is the peak month as hot humid weather attracts fleas, which transmit the disease from rats and other animals to humans.

“Rat control is essential for preventing the plague, because rodents spread the bacillus to fleas that can then infect humans,” Vogt added. “So the relatives of a detainee can pick up the disease on a visit to the prison. And a released detainee returning to his community without having been treated can also spread the disease.”

Malagasy prison authorities are working to eliminate rats and prevent the spread of the plague in Antanimora prison with the technical support of the ICRC and the Pasteur Institute of Madagascar. Detainees and prison staff are taking part in the disinfection work and insecticide spraying while the ICRC distributes hygiene products and rodent traps.

Around 1,600 rats were captured in a similar campaign in 2012. “The aim is to make sure there is no let-up in the fight against the plague in prisons,” Vogt said.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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