Zimbabwe declares national emergency over cholera

Zimbabwe has declared a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 560 people [with the capital Harare the worst affected] a national emergency and appealed for international help to deal with the crisis.

[…] “Our central hospitals are literally not functioning. Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived,” Health Minister David Parirenyatwa was quoted as saying in an appeal to donors.

[…] Zimbabwe’s health sector is collapsing with not enough money to pay for essential resources and doctors and nurses often striking over pay. The water system is in disarray, forcing residents to drink from contaminated wells and streams.

[…] Analysts said worsening conditions may force Mugabe’s government to mend relations with donors and other governments.

[…] Zimbabwe’s neighbours, faced with cholera patients fleeing across their borders, moved to help the country, while the World Health Organisation said it was preparing to send a team to help deal with the cholera outbreak.

[…] Deputy minister for water and infrastructural development Walter Mzembi said the ministry had only enough water treatment chemicals to last about 12 weeks, and called for donor support, the Herald reported. “I am appealing for at least 40 million rand ($3.9 million) to purchase chemicals for the next two months and the money is needed between now and next Monday,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Source: MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters, 04 Dec 2008

WASH response

The humanitarian community continue to scale up responses to cholera. UNICEF and OXFAM GB [who lead the WASH Clsuter], GAA, and ACF and other humanitarian partners are enhancing hygiene education; and emergency supplies. [T]he Health and the WASH Clusters will be holding weekly joint meetings, [while] UNICEF is working on a database indicating emergency supplies prepositioned by WASH Cluster members for the response.

{…] So far, Matabeleland North remains the only province which has not reported any cases.

The rapid deterioration of the health service delivery system in Zimbabwe, lack of adequate water supply, and lack of capacity to dispose off solid waste and repair sewer blockages in most areas will continue to contribute to the escalation and spread of the outbreak.

For more information contact: Ben Henson at bhenson@unicef.org for WASH

Read more: OCHA, Weekly Situation Report on Cholera in Zimbabwe, 03 Dec 2008

Regular updates and background information can be found on the UN OCHA Zimababwe web page.

See below a report by Sky News on cholera victims who have fled toSouth Africa for treatment

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