Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Red Cross action to curb cholera deaths

Emergency funds will be sent from Ireland to help curb the outbreak of Cholera in Zimbabwe, the Irish Red Cross announced today.

As the humanitarian situation worsens in Zimbabwe, the Irish Red Cross has arranged an immediate transfer of €10,000 from within its own emergency reserves. The Irish Red Cross is also appealing for people to help fund this sum and additional aid.

Irish Red Cross Secretary General, John Roycroft said "Our target is to prevent the spread of the disease as this is the most effective way to fight Cholera. Our Red Cross volunteers locally are giving people the means and the know-how to defend themselves from this deadly but curable and preventable disease,"

Donations can be made online or by calling 1850 50 70 70.

Latest estimates put the total of reported cholera cases at over 12,500 and at least 500 deaths. People are already drinking contaminated water and the situation is expected to worsen with the onset of the flood season.

Locally, Red Cross volunteers in Zimbabwe have already reached more than 11,000 people with information and equipment on how to prevent the spread of Cholera.

Notes for Editor

The Irish Red Cross can arrange interviews with two Irish people who are working on this project.

- John Flemming is from Dublin and is based in Johannesburg. He is the Southern Africa Health and Care Coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent

- John Roche is from Dublin and is based in Geneva. John Roche is the Operations Coordinator for Africa,

Additional Information

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent has spent €130,000 so far on helping local Red Cross volunteers. They have:

1. Reached more than 11,000 people in seven provinces with health and hygiene messages.

2. These messages have been given in English, Shona and Ndebele.

3. The funds have also been used to provide cholera kits and water purification equipment which are being distributed to communities in affected areas.

4. Relief items being distributed in Zimbabwe include

- 500,000 "water maker" sachets (enough to purify 10 million litres of water),

- nearly 7,000 blankets and 2,000 jerry cans.

- To assist with simple hygiene, Zimbabwe Red Cross is also distributing 380 latrine platforms and more than 5,000 bars of soap.

Cholera is endemic in the region and the Red Cross is combating the disease in Mozambique and Angola with over 18,000 cases reported in these countries and further cases reported in South Africa.

Cholera

1. Cholera is caused by the bacteria vibrio cholerae.

2. People contract cholera through drinking water or eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria, or through contact with flies. In outbreak situations, cholera occurs in people above the age of two.

3. Common signs and symptoms of Cholera

4. Severe watery diarrhea, sometimes with vomiting that leads to loss of large amounts of body fluids that, in turn, causes severe dehydration, weakness and potentially death.

Contact: Aoife MacEoin. 087 - 998 3788, National Communications Officer. Irish Red Cross.