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Cholera Cases Continue To Climb In Zimbabwe

Cholera Cases And Deaths Continue To Climb In Zimbabwe, UN Reports

Zimbabwe is now facing its worst cholera outbreak in over a decade, with the number of suspected cases of cholera in Zimbabwe in recent months having climbed to nearly 14,000, including 589 deaths reported, the United Nations announced today.

The bulk of cases have been reported in Harare, the capital of the Southern African nation, and the outbreak is a national one, with nine out of 10 provinces and two-thirds of regions affected.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today cautioned that UN updates of the number of cases were based on reports to medical centres around Zimbabwe, and therefore not portraying the full picture.

The needs stemming from the cholera outbreak has pushed the Consolidated Appeal for Zimbabwe for 2009 to $550 million, and the agency also warned of a shortage of fuel supplies exacerbating the problem.

While it understands the impact of the outbreak in Harare and the two other hardest-hit cities, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that did not have as clear a view of the situation in the countryside.

Cases have surged since late last month, the agency said, adding that it is airlifting emergency supplies from Dubai and mobilizing additional medicines from South Africa.

For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said that outbreak was becoming increasingly difficult to control, with Harare suffering from a water shortage.

It said is has made a one-month supply of chemicals to treat water available and is distributing 360,000 litres of drinking water daily.

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed in a telephone conversation with South African President Kgalama Motlanthe that the UN and its relief partners must respond quickly to address the humanitarian needs of Zimbabweans and prevent the cholera epidemic from spreading.

ENDS

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