Zimbabwe: As cholera escalates, Red Cross funding falls short

With the number of cholera deaths increasing 20% in one week, and with thousands at risk of infection, the British Red Cross appeals for urgent funds to save lives in Zimbabwe.

Figures from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization reveal a worsening crisis. As of 21 January, 48,623 cases had been reported, with 2,755 deaths. Most alarming, according to Red Cross Red Crescent health experts, is the mortality rate of 5.7 per cent, an indication that the outbreak is still far from under control.

Overall, this signifies a 20 per cent increase in cholera deaths over the past week and rings alarm bells about the need to push back this epidemic and better fund the humanitarian effort on the ground.

The British Red Cross have sent a team of water and sanitation experts to Zimbabwe to respond to the emergency.

"We have been able to send an emergency response team into Zimbabwe, thanks to money from the public and a significant donation from GlaxoSmithKline to the British Red Cross Appeal," said Pete Garrett, Relief Operations Manager, British Red Cross.

"However our struggle now is to raise more funds to supply hygiene kits for communities. There kits can make the difference between life and death, they contain really basic items that help to halt or prevent cholera outbreaks. When you consider that it costs just £1 a day - less than a cup of coffee - to protect a family of five from cholera, it shows that any donation, large or small, can make a huge difference. We need to get these kits out there now".

The scale of the cholera outbreaks has prompted an unprecedented mass deployment of international Red Cross and Red Crescent resources. The International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent has also launched an appeal for £6.2m. However the appeal is about 60 per cent underfunded.

"The global Red Cross has rallied behind the people of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Red Cross," explained Emma Kundishora, the secretary general of the ZRCS. "Our volunteers and staff are on the ground and progress is being made. But we need the funds to go the last mile."

To give to the British Red Cross Zimbabwe & Region Appeal visit www.redcross.org.uk/zimbabweregion or call 0845 054 7200. Postal donations can be sent to British Red Cross, UKO, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL


For more info, interviews or pictures contact Penny Sims 020 7877 7044 psims@redcross.org.uk

Heron Holloway, delegate from International Federation of the Red Cross, is in Zimbabwe and available via telephone for interview, please contact Penny Sims or Stefano Gelmini on 020 7877 7044 or 020 7877 7045 or psims@redcross.org.uk