Extensive cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe prompts ADRA response

Author: Hearly Mayr

Silver Spring, Maryland-As an increasingly deadly cholera outbreak sweeps across Zimbabwe, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working to stop the spread of the disease through prevention training, health and hygiene education, and the distribution of disinfectants, water treatment tablets, and water containers. Since August, the epidemic has killed 783 people, the United Nations reported.

ADRA is targeting 500 families, or approximately 2,500 people, in the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana, where residents often turn to open sewages for drinking water, and Chendambuya, a rural area in the Manicaland province. As part of this response, beneficiaries are receiving four-gallon (20 liter) plastic jerry cans, 100 water treatment tablets to sterilize up to 528 gallons (2,000 liters), laundry detergent, surface and toilet disinfectants, and hand soap. The new jerry cans are intended to replace possibly contaminated containers and ensure that vulnerable people have a clean and safe place to store and treat water. Beneficiaries include the chronically ill, who lack water storage containers or cannot afford to purchase hygiene materials.

In addition, ADRA is providing medical supplies to health institutions, including intravenous saline and dextrose solutions, cannulae, oral rehydration tablets, latex gloves, antibiotics, analgesics, anti-diarrheal solutions and tablets, anti-emetics to prevent vomiting, and cleaning agents. Approximately 100 public facilities and institutions will also receive cleaning and disinfecting materials. Those primarily targeted are churches, bus stations, shopping centers, bars, clinics, vegetable markets, and public toilets located within the targeted high-density suburbs of Zimbabwe's two largest urban areas. The plan also includes schools, which will be targeted in January when they are open, and all public buildings.

In partnership with local Adventist clinics, health providers, and city council community representatives in Harare and Bulawayo, ADRA is mobilizing medical practitioners to facilitate participatory health and hygiene education (PHHE) workshops in order to raise awareness about the importance of cholera prevention, a program designed to reduce the rate of transmission. A clean-up campaign will also run parallel to the trainings.

Further activities are also planned in the areas of Epworth, and Old Pumula, located in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

ADRA is coordinating its intervention with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the World Health Organization (WHO). Funding for the four-week project, which began today, December 12, comes from ADRA International and the ADRA Africa Regional office located in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to reports from WHO, more than 16,000 Zimbabweans have been affected by the latest outbreak of cholera, an acute diarrheal illness caused by the ingestion of food and water that has been tainted with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The epidemic has already reached all but one of the country's 10 provinces, and cases have been identified in neighboring South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia where health officials are working with UN health experts to halt the spread of the epidemic.

Although prevention and preparedness activities have kept the disease largely under control, cholera outbreaks have become more frequent since the early 1990s, said WHO in a statement released on December 2.

To assist in ADRA's emergency response to the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, contributions can be donated to ADRA's Emergency Response Fund, by phone at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or online at www.adra.org.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at www.adra.org.

Media Contact: John Torres, Senior Public Relations Manager, ADRA International 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 Phone: 301.680.6357 E-mail: Media.Inquiries@adra.org