Mozambique is to start a cholera vaccination campaign this week in areas ravaged by Cyclone Idai, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, after five confirmed cases were detected. Polity reports that thousands of people were trapped for more than a week in submerged villages without access to clean water after Cyclone Idai smashed into the Mozambican port city of Beira on 14 March, causing catastrophic flooding and killing more than 700 people across three countries in southeast Africa.
With tens of thousands of displaced people moved to makeshift camps, relief efforts have increasingly focused on containing outbreaks of waterborne and infectious diseases.
David Wightwick, a senior member of the WHO’s response team in Beira, is quoted in the report as saying that seven clinics had been set up in Mozambique to treat cholera patients and that two more would be ready soon. “We have 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccines which are coming in on Monday, and we will start a vaccination campaign as soon as possible next week,” Wightwick said.
Cholera is endemic to Mozambique, which has had regular outbreaks over the past five years. About 2,000 people were infected in the last outbreak, which ended in February 2018, according to the WHO. But, the report says, the scale of the damage to Beira’s water and sanitation infrastructure, coupled with its dense population, have raised fears that another epidemic would be difficult to put down.
Wightwick could not confirm whether there had yet been any deaths from cholera in Mozambique.
The report says the body of a dead child was seen being brought out of an emergency clinic in Beira on Wednesday of last week. The child had suffered acute diarrhoea, which can be a symptom of cholera.
Meanwhile, the report says, in nearby Malawi, which was badly hit by flooding and heavy rains in the lead-up to Cyclone Idai, the government said arable and livestock farming had been badly affected and that irrigation infrastructure had been damaged. Agriculture ministry spokesperson Hamilton Chimala said around 420,000 metric tonnes of maize had been lost, representing roughly 12 percent of the country’s forecast output of 3.3m metric tonnes in the 2018/19 farming season. Impoverished Malawi is regularly hit by food shortages, so the damage to the country’s staple grain is a cause for concern.
Zimbabwe‘s Local Government Minister July Moyo is quoted in the report as saying the government would spend another $18m to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone.