A cholera patient rests in her bed inside a ward of Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare. Zimbabwe is in the trenches of one of the worst cholera outbreaks in recorded history.
The epidemic is now going into its eighth month and shows little sign of slowing. It quickly spread into all 10 of Zimbabwe's provinces, killing 4,000 people and infecting 83,500 others. The case fatality rate still hovers around five percent - more than five times what the World Health Organization (WHO) deems acceptable in a cholera outbreak.
International Medical Corps (IMC) has secured a stockpile of cholera-specific medicines and supplies that could make the life-saving difference for the many who have fallen sick in the outbreak. Because cholera is curable if the appropriate medicines are on hand, it is critical that more health clinics, especially in the most rural areas, get the supplies that they need. The IMC supplies have everything needed to treat cholera, including antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, IV fluids, as well as basic medical items like syringes, surgical gloves, and feeding tubes.
These medications could save the lives of many who may otherwise not receive treatment, but we need your help to make sure that they get there. The supplies are ready to be shipped and your contribution, big or small, will help ensure that they do. By helping us cover the shipping costs of these medicines, you will make it possible for many more of Zimbabwe's tens of thousands of cholera patients get the treatment that they need to recover and continue their lives.
A cholera patient drinks treated water at Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare. The cholera outbreak is a symptom of Zimbabwe's extensive internal struggles. Spread by water contaminated with human excrement, a cholera outbreak is the result of not having safe water to drink and sanitation systems to remove waste and keep it out of the water supply. Its short incubation period - two hours to five days - makes it possible for explosive outbreaks, as Zimbabwe has experienced.
Most cholera cases can be treated with oral rehydration salts, which reverse dehydration and restore potassium levels. Even in the most severe cases, antibiotics and IV fluids can cure a cholera patient. However without medicine, cholera can kill a healthy adult in a matter of hours. As the death toll approaches 4,000, it is clear that Zimbabwe's health system is in need of support so that more people, particularly in rural areas, have access to treatment.