Zimbabwe receives $5 million boost from UNICEF in fight against cholera outbreak

19 January 2009

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have announced a $5 million donation for Zimbabwe’s besieged health sector to help it battle an out-of-control cholera epidemic and the effects of collapsing health services.

The death toll in the southern African country’s worst ever cholera outbreak has now topped 2,000, with over half the estimated 40,000 diagnosed cases in the capital, Harare.

“The cholera outbreak is the tip of the iceberg,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman while visiting Zimbabwe last week.

“The economy in Zimbabwe is crumbling, with the highest inflation rate in the world at 231 million percent,” she said, adding that “over half the population is receiving food aid, health centers have closed and when the school term starts there is no guarantee that there will be enough teachers.”

The disease, which is caused by contaminated food or water, has affected nearly all of Zimbabwe, which has been faced with years of failed harvests, bad governance and hyperinflation, as well as months of political tension after disputed presidential elections in March.

In discussions with President Robert Mugabe and others, Ms. Veneman underscored the humanitarian impact on women and children, stressing “more than ever before all stakeholders must put children at the forefront of their collective agenda.”

Ms. Veneman also visited a cholera treatment clinic and a care center that is part of a UNICEF supported program that helps 250,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

UNICEF and its partners have been responding to the emergency, providing vital equipment to cholera treatment centers, as well as 70 per cent of the country’s essential medicines.

Over the next four months it will support the drilling of 100 boreholes in areas in need of water.


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Over 2,000 lives now lost to Zimbabwe’s worst ever cholera outbreak – UN

The death toll in Zimbabwe’s worst ever cholera outbreak has now topped 2,000, with more than 100 deaths – and nearly 1,500 new cases – added just today, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported.