CHOLERA Zimbabwe and Zambia

In Zimbabwe, the new year got off to a bad start after the holidays with a serious outbreak of cholera. UNICEF reported that over 20,000 cases across the country have occurred, with 400 confirmed or suspected deaths. Thousands of suspected cases of cholera have been reported or suspected in the capital, where the poor people live in close proximity to each other, with only access to inadequately poor hygienic conditions. Harare has declared a state of emergency.

The outbreak began almost a year ago in Chegutu, about 100 kilometers south of Harare, and grew rapidly. The country’s dilapidated sewage and water infrastructure urgently needs renovation, as many struggle daily to obtain clean water.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has supported the Ministry of Health in setting up nine Oral Rehydration Points (ORPs) to provide access to treatment and information. The Red Cross teams received support in June 2023 and asked for further aid.

Zambia, Zimbabwe’s neighbor, is also suffering greatly from this disease. NAD Africa News reported on January 31st that 15,000 cholera cases with almost 600 deaths have been recorded in the crisis area around Lusaka since the beginning of the rainy season in October. A large Lusaka stadium became a treatment centre, with some 800 doctors treating patients from across the country. According to NAD, Zambia has been hit frequently by cholera, but the current outbreak is “the worst since 2017.” A 2019 study showed that 40% of Zambians lacked access to clean water, while 85% lacked access to adequate sanitation infrastructure.

It is urgent that the authorities take long-term measures to improve this dire situation in the affected countries!