Zimbabwe: IOM assists in fight against cholera outbreak

IOM is working in coordination with UN agencies and local authorities to combat a deadly outbreak of cholera, which has so far clamed dozens of lives.

Current IOM activities include case finding, reporting and hospital referrals, the deployment of nurses to the Cholera Treatment Centres (CTC) and the provision of drugs, medical supplies and Non Food Items such as protective clothing and gumboots to health staff working at the CTCs.

IOM and its partners are also mobilizing and training volunteers to help with health education and hygiene promotion activities throughout the country. All volunteers are given water purification tablets, Oral Rehydration Salts and sodium chloride to disinfect homes and toilets where cholera cases have been reported.

IOM has also been on the forefront in providing support to the Ministry of Health in the border town of Beitbridge, where 1,302 suspected cases and 46 deaths have so far been reported.

To increase the limited capacity to contain the disease at the border, IOM has set up tents, provided medical personnel and supplies, food and non food items at the Cholera Treatment Centre in Beitbridge.

In coordination with local authorities and the Ministry of Health, IOM has also set up a cholera isolation unit at the Migrant Reception and Support Centre.

There is an urgent need for drugs, intravenous fluids, Oral Rehydration Salts, antibiotics and cholera beds to respond to the rapid rise in suspected cholera cases.

Since February 2008, IOM has provided comprehensive responses to reports of cholera, anthrax, scabies and diarrhoea diseases outbreaks among Mobile and Vulnerable Populations in more than 10 districts.

Zimbabwe's health delivery system is facing serious challenges, characterized by shortages of health staff, drugs and other medical consumables. The situation is exacerbated by the reduced capacity to supply clean water in urban areas and deteriorating sewer systems.

For further information please contact Erin Foster at IOM Harare, Tel: +263912572315, Email: efoster@iom.int