Zimbabwe: helping victims of deadly cholera outbreak
28-11-2008 News Release 08/220
Harare/Geneva (ICRC) – the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is helping the Zimbabwean health authorities respond to the cholera outbreak, which has caused hundreds of deaths.
Health facilities in Harare and other parts of the country continue to face a mass influx of patients suffering from diarrhoea, some of whom are diagnosed as cholera cases. Humanitarian agencies report that the cholera epidemic has claimed more than 380 lives, and more than 9,500 cases have been recorded.
According to a health worker in Harare’s Budiriro Polyclinic, " the situation seems to be getting worse by the day. This week has seen more cholera cases in this and other clinics than last week. " Budiriro is one of many clinics in the densely populated suburbs of Harare that have been converted into Cholera Treatment Units.
Medical professionals blame the resurgence in cholera on the lack of safe water in many parts of the country. People in some areas have to fetch water from shallow wells and other contaminated sources. " The current rainy season is another factor: rainwater on the ground is easy to collect, making it a tempting source of drinking water. The problem is that it may be contaminated, " says Sandra Eigenheer Fust, water and sanitation engineer at the ICRC in Harare.
In response to the outbreak, the ICRC is helping the ministry of health and City of Harare Health Services to treat cholera patients in the suburbs of the capital. Since the outbreak of the epidemic in early November, it has distributed 1,000 litres of intravenous hydration fluids and 20,000 doses of oral re-hydration salts, plus waste disposal bags, cleaning materials, protective gloves, and enough food to sustain 50 clinic staff for four weeks. Zimbabwe Red Cross volunteers are working in the clinics alongside the ICRC, washing and caring for patients.
To provide sufficient clean drinking water, the ICRC has drilled two boreholes at Budiriro and Glen View polyclinics. Water pumps will be installed this week. In the meantime the organization has been trucking water to Budiriro, Glen View and Rutsanana polyclinics. It is also repairing existing boreholes at Rutsanana and Mabvuku polyclinics.
For further information, please contact:
Robin Waudo, ICRC Harare, tel: +263 91 2240 960 or +263 4 731 760
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel:+41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17
Zimbabwe: coping with the cholera outbreak