World Vision responding to cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe

News and Press Release
Originally published
Harare, November 19, 2008 -- A cholera outbreak that recently claimed lives in Zimbabwe's capital Harare has spread to the busy town of Beitbridge in southern Zimbabwe, killing as many as 44 more people and infected hundreds more. One World Vision staff member in the agency's Limpopo community development program is among the dead; two other staffers are currently hospitalized with cholera.

The Limpopo program is located in Beitbridge District, where World Vision Zimbabwe's Disaster Mitigation Team is supplying cholera kits consisting of anti-biotics, oral rehydration salts and fluids to the affected areas, while conducting rapid assessments of the situation.Local World Vision staff are also ferrying nurses to health centers to monitor the situation, carrying out awareness campaigns and helping to clean up refuse.

"We have been in touch with the district medical officer to get the latest information and at the same time we have been mobilizing resources to respond to the outbreak," said Pretty Dube, Limpopo program manager. Dube added that the water situation in Beitbridge remains precarious and there are fears that the disease might spread to other centers.

"World Vision Zimbabwe is implementing a coordinated response while working together with local Ministry of Health staff, other NGOs and the business community in an effort to contain the outbreak in Beitbridge," said World Vision's humanitarian and emergency affairs director Daniel Muchena.

"World Vision's water and sanitation sector is taking a lead in participatory health and hygiene education in response to the cholera alert, targeting all communities in affected areas with the school-based feeding points and other World Vision food aid programs, with protecting children as the priority," Muchena added.

Efforts to contain the disease have been hampered by the critical shortage of manpower and transport to visit rural clinics to ascertain whether the disease has spread to other areas and conducting awareness campaigns. Due to economic constraints, the health delivery system in Zimbabwe has collapsed with major hospitals in the country closing down due to the non-availability of basic drugs and the lack of medical personnel who have left the country in search of better opportunities.

The cholera outbreak has also spread to other areas along the Beitbridge-Nyamapanda corridor, including Nyamapanda, Mudzi, Chinhoyi, Mutoko and Murehwa. Beitbridge is the busiest border post in Southern Africa and handles traffic for countries such as Malawi, Zambia, DRC, and Mozambique. There have been reports that the disease has hit the mining town of Zvishavane, which is situated about 230 kilometers from the border town. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city has been on high alert following the outbreak of cholera in Beitbridge.


Press contact:

Kristy Allen-Shirley in Zambia at +260-97-877-0392 or kristy_allen-shirley@wvi.org