Thursday, 18 April, 2024
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Zimbabwe cholera outbreak worsens

Measures have been announced to try to contain the spread of cholera in Zimbabwe, which has killed more than 100 and infected 5 000 people since February, and which authorities fear may be a repeat of a 2008 outbreak that sparked a national emergency.

Cases have been reported in all 10 of the country’s provinces, with the most alarming spikes in the south-eastern provinces of Masvingo and Manicaland, the epicentre of the crisis.

Restrictions have now been imposed in vulnerable areas, with funerals being limited to 50 people and attendees being prohibited from shaking hands or serving food at the gatherings, reports Al Jazeera.

Authorities are also discouraging open-air markets, unlicensed vendors, or outdoor church camps where sanitation is scarce.

Many Zimbabweans, especially in remote villages, exist without tap water for months at a time, forcing them to draw from unsafe wells or rivers. Raw sewage spilling from broken pipes and heaps of lingering refuse increase the risk of the disease spreading.

Not a new problem

“The cholera problem is not new… but there used to be health workers who would distribute water purification tablets that we could use to treat open wells. That isn’t happening anymore,” one resident told Al Jazeera.

Others lamented the deterioration of safe boreholes, on which at least 38% of the population relies for water.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has acknowledged the country’s infrastructure shortcomings and announced plans to drill more boreholes for 35 000 villages in the next year. The current crisis is the worst since 2008, when some 4 000 civilians died in a nationwide outbreak that the government declared a “national emergency”.

Cholera is also a recurring problem in Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa.

Together, these countries and Zimbabwe have seen 1 000 of their citizens die from the disease since late 2022.

 

Al Jazeera article – Zimbabwe struggles to contain spread of cholera outbreak (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

100 dead as cholera rages through Zimbabwe

 

Anger over crowdfunding to fight cholera in Zimbabwe

 

Africa battles triple burden of malaria/cholera/measles

 

 

 

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