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Zimbabwe'sCholera Epidemic Not Under Control

Zimbabwe’s Cholera Epidemic Still Not Under Control, UN Reports

23 December 2008 – The worst cholera epidemic ever recorded in Zimbabwe is still not under control after infecting nearly 24,000 people, with the death toll approaching 1,200, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.

The disease now affects all provinces in the impoverished southern African country and there continues to be staffing issues at cholera treatment centres as many medics are going without salaries and cannot show up to work, UNICEF Country Representative Roeland Monasch told reporters in a telephone briefing from Harare, the capital.

Half the cases are in Harare, and only a handful of professionals are staffing clinics where several dozen are needed.

UNICEF is providing 700,000 litres of clean water a day, even digging boreholes in urban areas. It is also procuring 4,000 tons of water treatment chemicals for urban areas to fight the disease, which is caused by contaminated food or water, and can lead quickly to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given.

The first ever UNICEF airlift of critical emergency supplies to Zimbabwe has brought in intravenous fluids, drip equipment, essential drugs, midwifery and obstetric kits to boost the agency’s cholera response and help the Government to deliver some essential health services to expecting mothers.

Yesterday four independent UN human rights experts called on the Government of Zimbabwe and the international community to do more to rebuild the country’s health system, end the cholera epidemic and ensure adequate food for all people.


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