Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe cholera outbreak

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Zimbabwe cholera outbreak has made news headlines all over the World. More than 1.000 people have died so far and many people are now in the cholera treatment camps under treatment and still many new cases are daily referred to the treatment camps. Thousands are still at risk of catching the disease according to UN, not least as the rain is now setting in. The hardest hit areas are the High Density Suburbs in Harare and some of the major towns of the country e.g. right now hard hit are towns like Chegutu and Norton. Outbreaks occur in the provinces of Zimbabwe, but most of these reported cases of cholera are traced back to Harare. The situation is quite serious.

The major cities and towns in Zimbabwe have been going for quite a number of weeks and some for months without good constant clean water supply and this has made the residents resort to dig wells around the suburbs in the city. Many of the wells are shallow and not protected, and with the sewage -system broken down and leaking the water from the sewage flows into some of the wells contaminating the water. This resulted in the cholera out break.

The whole situation has become further aggravated because the health system is not functioning well, there is a shortage of doctors in the country and some of the doctors and nurses are on strike. There is shortage of drugs in the country and many people are facing hunger.

In the beginning of December 2008 the Minister of Health Dr. Parirenyatwa declared cholera a national disaster and called on UN and the international community to assist.

Saving lives

Humana People to People and DAPP Zimbabwe has joined hands with the government and other organisation to fight the cholera epidemic. We have close co-operation with UNICEF, from whom we are getting some of the supplies.

Together Humana People to People and DAPP Zimbabwe assigned a committee to lead the fight against cholera campaign. The committee is comprised of 6 members, who are responsible for the total operation and the logistics. The committee is working together with 3 teams of 20 members each team. The teams are reaching out to the people with prevention information through daily street and door-to-door campaigns.

The 3 teams are right now working in the capital city Harare and in Bindura and Mazowe in Mashonaland Central Province. In Harare the team is covering the high density suburbs of Mabvuku/Tafara, Glen Norah, and Glen View. In Mabvuku/Tafara DAPP Zimbabwe was running a TCE program for 3 years, so the structure which was set up by TCE was used to reach many people in a short period of time, because of the already once mobilized TCE Passionates. The team then moved to Glen Norah and Glen View, which are the hardest hit suburbs of Harare. The two Child Aid projects in Rushinga and Bindura/Shamva in Mashonaland Central, as well Child Aid in Mutasa in Manicaland Province were organised to reach to all the people in their operation areas. In Guruve district the TCE programe that operates there covers the area with TCE Field Officers who quickly can reach the 100.000 people.

What has happened?

The response from the different organisation was very good; many lives are being saved everyday. There are a lot of organisations in the field in Harare and every week the organisations together with City Health, Ministry of Health meet to coordinate their work and go through the reports from the different areas.

At times coordination meetings are also taking place for the national response, e.g. recently UNICEF calle d such a meeting. Humana People to People and DAPP Zimbabwe are participating in these coordination meetings.

As Humana and DAPP Zimbabwe have decided to place focus on hygiene promotion to prevent the spread of cholera and of distribution of non-food items such as water treatment tablets and soap, but we do also address emergencies in Mashonaland Central Province where we assist with medical supplies to the cholera camps when needed.

The following are the results achieved so far:

- More than 10,000 people has been reached through anti-cholera education

- More than 10,000 anti-cholera pamphlets has been distributed in all areas

- 1,000 20L water jerry cans and 30,000 aqua tabs (one month supply) for water treatment was distributed to 1,400 house holds in Mabvuku/Tafara.

- 1,400 20L water jerry cans and 42,000 aqua tabs (one month supply) for water treatment was distributed to 1,400 house holds in Bindura

- The Cholera Treatment Camps in Guruve has been supported with treatment kits, hygiene materials food and non food items for the patients and staff manning the camps.

- More than 2,000 liters has been used so far for the campaigns and 8 cars have been specifically assigned for anti-cholera campaign.

- More than 50 volunteers have mobilized to move street by street and door to door educating people about cholera.

- The first cleaning action has been carried out in Glen-Norah clinic.

- In agreement with government policy HPP has joined hands with the Brigade of Cuban Doctors in Zimbabwe , and thus facilitates peoples' access to professionals in areas, where usually there are no doctors

What next?

Cholera cases are expected to increase in the next 3 months due to the rains, therefore the anti-cholera campaigns will continue through out Christmas and the New Year holidays. We have seen that educating the people is very important because many people are taken unaware and do not know how to react and prevent cholera spreading.

We are ready to do what ever it takes save people from this deadly disease, which have claimed many lives within few weeks. All the people involved understand what lies ahead of them and what it means to them.