The World Health Organisation (WHO) has donated four cholera kits worth US$50 000 to help the country deal with sporadic outbreaks. Speaking at a handover ceremony in Harare yesterday, Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji hailed the donation saying it will enhance Zimbabwe’s cholera preparedness and management.
“You are aware that there are huge cholera outbreaks in the region and that these cases seen in Zimbabwe, though small, the risks of these escalating are high,” he said. “The country remains on high alert for cholera and other epidemic diseases.”
Zimbabwe has suffered a series of sporadic outbreaks of cholera in some districts that affected a total of 17 people but with no reported deaths. Since February 14this year, four cases have been recorded in Chiredzi, Mudzi (three), Beitbridge (eight) and Mwenezi (two). These areas share a common border with Mozambique where the outbreak has killed more than 41 people. The kits which contained antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, ringers lactates and other health accessories, each with the capacity to treat up to 100 severe cholera cases and at least 400 moderate cholera cases.
WHO Resident Representative Dr David Okello said the donation was part of efforts aimed at containing the spread of cholera which hit Mozambique and Malawi hardest in 2014-15 rainy season. “This part of our contribution to the management of cholera cases within the region,” he said. “We are working closely with governments in the region to contain the spread of cholera.” In Zimbabwe, the situation was under control but Government and partners remain on high alert.
The water-borne disease characterised by watery diarrhoeal stools, vomiting and rapid dehydration can cause death within 24 hours, if not treated. The disease can be transmitted through water and fresh foods especially fruits, fish, meat and pre-cooked food sold in the open. Zimbabwe experienced the worst cholera outbreak between August 2008 and July 2009 when nearly 100 000 cases and 4 000 deaths were reported in 55 of the country’s 63 districts.