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Zimbabwe cholera deaths slow

23rd February 2009

Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic now extends to all 10 of the country's provinces, with nearly 4,000 dead according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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The WHO reported 79,613 suspected cases of cholera and 3,731 deaths in the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe. About 50% of these deaths are recorded within the communities where they occur, and not at health facilities nearby.

About 365 treatment centres for cholera are active in all provinces of Zimbabwe, and the fatality rate there is down to half of what it was several months ago.

South Africa is also reporting many cases of cholera, though the fatality rate there is lower due to the strength of the country's healthcare system.

In Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, where the disease is endemic, cases have also been reported.

In the capital of the country, the WHO has set up a Cholera Command and Control Centre, aiming to provide technical coordination for partner organisations in the areas of case management, epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, social mobilisation, logistics and infection control, and water and sanitation in treatment centres.

They are supplying medical kits for the treatment of diarrhoea, as well as emergency packs and other medicines.

In order to provide daily reporting of cases and deaths, as well as alerts of new outbreaks, a system of alerts and responses has been established with partners of the WHO.

For those working to fight the spread of cholera in the country, training sessions are being organised at all levels of management.

Experts from institutes in Australia, England, Bangladesh, the US, and Sweden have been deployed, and specialists in water and sanitation, logistics, public health, and social mobilisation have been sent to help from offices of the WHO in Zimbabwe.

However, the poor state of the water system in the country, and its lack of sanitation infrastructure, makes fighting the disease a difficult task.

The WHO says that it now aims to fight the spread of the disease in areas where nongovernmental organisations do not yet exist.

It has also stated that it aims to boost the involvement of more of its partner organisations.


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