Many Angolans are taking to social media to post alarming photos of huge piles of trash in the streets of the capital and the deteriorating situation at the country’s hospitals, which are struggling to cope with deadly epidemics of mosquito-borne illnesses like yellow fever and malaria. But you wouldn’t know about these crises if you just looked at the official press, which is painting a rosier story.
Below, the image on the left shows smiling kids tucked into clean beds in a sunshine-filled hospital wing. The image on the right shows a dark hospital corridor where at least ten people, including children, are sleeping on blankets spread on the floor. According to Zenaida Machado, the journalist and human rights activist who published this tweet, the first image appeared in the Angolan state newspaper, Jornal de Angola. The second was uploaded by an Angolan social media user.
Last week, several Observers alerted us about the catastrophic situation in Angolan hospitals, which are buckling under the pressure of hundreds of people ill with yellow fever and malaria. The situation is dire and one doctor told us that he was worried that these mosquito-borne illnesses would continue spreading.
Meanwhile, the Jornal de Angola was busy congratulating the country’s sanitation workers and publishing stories that claimed that the number of cases of malaria was decreasing.
One of our Observers told us about how the families of the ill are often forced to wait all night to donate blood to their loved ones. This problem isn’t even mentioned by the Jornal de Angola, which instead wrote about the 200 members of the Brigada Jovens Solidários (BJS, or Solidarity Youth Brigade in English) who donated blood. The BJS is an organization close to the government that carries out public awareness campaigns about health issues.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the official press also skipped over photos of the huge piles of trash sitting in the streets of Luanda, Angola's capital. These trash piles serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos. Instead, the Jornal published photos of Luanda’s rare clean-up campaigns.