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Zimbabwe's government criticized over cholera outbreak

16 September 2018

The cases were recorded in Chegutu, Harare and Chitungwiza.

WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health and Child Care to fight the outbreak by strengthening the coordination of the response and mobilizing national and worldwide health experts to form a cholera surge team. New cases have been confirmed in four other provinces outside Harare.

No public gatherings allowed as part of an emergency response to the outbreak that has killed 21 people so far.

While Zimbabwe had reported cholera cases every year over the past three years, the scale was comparatively lower (20 cases in 2015, 2 cases in 2016, and 6 cases in 2017). Early this month, the MDC-T approached the High Court for and won an order forcing police to allow it to hold a rally in Kwekwe after its request had been turned down over a typhoid outbreak detected in the Midlands capital of Gweru, about 65km away.

She said WHO, the United Nations health agency, was working closely with the national authorities and partners to urgently respond to the outbreak. World Health Organization is leading the coordination of the response with technical support from the national rapid response team (NRRT) which includes UNICEF among other partners. The outbreak was notified on 6 September 2018.

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In 2017, more than 150,000 cholera cases were reported in 17 countries throughout Africa, according to the WHO.

Unlike other ministers who had the luxury of first familiarising themselves with their portfolios as they settle into their new responsibilities, Moyo had to hit the ground running to contain the highly infectious disease, which first broke out in two of Harare's south-western suburbs on September 1. There have been reports of additional suspected cases in Buhera, Chitungwiza, Shamva, Gokwe North, Makoni and Masvingo districts. "Providing access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation and ensuring communities have the tools and information to prevent its spread will be critical to saving countless more lives". Preliminary estimates suggests that the population at risk in the epicentre is 200,000 people.

This is the second major cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe within a decade.

In 2008, experts established that lack of a safe drinking water supply and broken-down sanitation systems that left residents surrounded by flowing raw sewage, which led to the outbreak.

Zimbabwe's government criticized over cholera outbreak