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UN Visits Zimbabwe To Contain Cholera Outbreak

UN Health Agency Visits Zimbabwe To Help Contain Growing Cholera Outbreak

A delegation United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is currently visiting Zimbabwe, to help the Southern African nation respond to its worst cholera outbreak in over a decade.

A high-level WHO delegation, headed by Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General for the agency’s Health Action in Crises cluster, arrived in the capital Harare over the weekend.

WHO hosted a meeting today drawing 50 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as UN and Health Ministry partners.

At the gathering, Mr. Laroche called for the creation of a strong control and command structure to lead the containment and response to the outbreak, as well as to coordinate the efforts of health providers in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, he met with Zimbabwe’s Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa, offering WHO’s support in coordinating the response to the cholera outbreak.

The agency said that the number of suspected cases has risen to over 15,000, with nearly 800 deaths having been reported, since August in two-thirds of the country’s 62 districts.

But it cautioned that these numbers may not reflect the true extent of the outbreak, with reporting from more areas being incomplete, and as a result is working on a scenario dealing with 60,000 cholera cases to ensure an adequate response.

The epidemic has hit Harare and two other towns the hardest, and WHO noted that this outbreak exacerbates the already dire humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) noted today that 80 per cent of people in Zimbabwe lack access to safe and clean water, with the potential for the cholera outbreak to get even worse due to a deteriorating sanitation system.

ENDS

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