The cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has been reported since February 2008. It is now extremely serious and has spread to all ten provinces of the country. The most affected provinces are Harare and Mashonaland East. According to the report by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and World Health Organization (WHO) on 14th January 2009, the cumulative totals are 41,986 cases and 2,201 deaths.
The prevailing acute shortage of drugs, medical equipment and materials as well as health personnel in state hospitals and clinics, lead to a high case fatality rate of 5.2.
The limited access to clean water supplies, proper sanitation facilities, health education and information are the main causes of the rapid spread of the cholera.
The cholera is expected to spread further with the intensifying rainy season from January to April.
Red Cross/ Red Crescent Action
Emergency appeal was launched by the International Red Cross, which seeks for about HKD 70 million to support the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) to assist 1.5 million people, in providing assistance and relief in the water and sanitation, health and hygiene promotion.
500,000 water purifiers, 6,950 blankets, 380 sanitary platforms, 5,090 bars of soap, 2,000 jerry cans, First Aid kits and a variety of volunteer protective and visibility items have been distributed to the affected community.
Seven Emergency Response Units (ERU) are deployed from the International Red Cross to coordinate activities on sanitation and basic health care. They also carry out daily surveillance visits.
Cholera Treatment Centres (CTC) and Cholera Treatment Units (CTU) have been set up to provide care and medical treatment to those affected. More centres will be set up at community and household levels.
Hygiene promotion activities have been rolled out and promotion materials translated into local languages have been distributed to 2,160 households.
Moreover, health and hygiene promotion training is provided to over 200 ZRCS volunteers by the International Red Cross. Together with nearly 50 nurses, they help to improve the level of health education in different communities and ensure that affected can access to treatment. They also assist in distributing the water makers and oral re-hydration salts.
Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) Action
The HKRC is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the International Red Cross. No appeal has been launched for this operation in Hong Kong at the moment.
The HKRC is sending a volunteer nurse to Midlands province in Zimbabwe to work in the Emergency Response Unit to provide basic health services and hygiene promotion to the communities in February 2009. Another volunteer nurse is on standby to be deployed to another province, Mashonaland West.
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