Zimbabwe cholera death toll rises to 400 since September; all 64 districts now affected

Zimbabwe cholera death toll rises to 400 since September; all 64 districts now affected

By Agencies

HARARE: The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has climbed to 400 since September, with the disease now affecting nearly all 64 districts of the country, the nation’s Health Minister told EFE on Monday.

Douglas Mombeshora said that the health ministry has also documented at least 18,000 suspected cases of the infectious disease across the country.

“Cholera cases and deaths are increasing daily,” Mombeshora said, describing the situation in some parts of the country as “horrible.”

He highlighted that cholera has now spread to all 64 districts, particularly exacerbated by an upsurge in the movement of people to and from affected areas during the holiday period.

Compounded by a deteriorating public health system, affected by years of insufficient funding, some regions of the country are resorting to treating patients in open field hospitals.

Specifically, Mombeshora pointed out the dire situation in the southern Chiredzi district, where intravenous infusion dispensers for patients are suspended from tree branches due to lack of medical equipment.

Despite the challenges, the ministry is actively establishing cholera treatment centres in reported areas and setting up oral rehydration centres within communities, he added.

Furthermore, authorities are urging people to avoid using contaminated water from flooded and shallow wells and to boil all untreated water before using it for household purposes, especially for drinking.

In December, the Zimbabwe High Court ordered the government to provide potable drinking water to residents of Harare province to avert a cholera epidemic, after residents complained about the lack of clean water in their neighbourhoods.

A sharp increase in cholera cases prompted the Harare City Council to declare a state of emergency in November.

In 2008, Zimbabwe faced a severe cholera outbreak that claimed over 4,000 lives and infected nearly 100,000 people throughout the country.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacterium “Vibrio Cholerae.”

According to the World Health Organization, cholera remains a “global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.”