Zimbabwe cholera death toll now more than 1,600 - UN reports

30 December 2008

The death toll from the worst cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe’s history continues to rise and now stands at 1,608, the United Nations said today, adding that the number of cases of the acute intestinal infection caused by contaminated food or water has risen to 30,365 as of 29 December.

The death toll from the worst cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe’s history continues to rise and now stands at 1,608, the United Nations said today, adding that the number of cases of the acute intestinal infection caused by contaminated food or water has risen to 30,365 as of 29 December.

UN agencies are continuing their efforts to help the country to tackle the epidemic, which affects all provinces of the southern African country and comes amid a collapsing health system and worsening humanitarian situation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has in recent days set up a response team comprised of an environmental health officer, epidemiologists and data managers.

The agency has also presented the terms of reference for the Cholera Command and Control Centre it set up to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

The terms of reference propose that the support team be co-chaired by the Ministry and WHO. Its main tasks are surveillance, case management, water and sanitation, infection control, social mobilization and logistics.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) airlifted more cholera response supplies, including intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts, gloves and nasogastric tubes. Supplies trucked from South Africa included drugs and midwifery and obstetric kits.

The cholera epidemic is just the latest crisis to hit Zimbabwe, which has been faced with a worsening humanitarian situation owing to years of failed harvests, bad governance and hyperinflation, as well as months of political tensions after disputed presidential elections in March involving the incumbent Robert Mugabe and the opposition figure Morgan Tsvangirai.

Although a power-sharing deal on the formation of a new government was reached in September with the help of regional leaders, outstanding issues remain, jeopardizing the deal’s implementation.

 

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