Disabled more vulnerable to cholera in Zimbabwe

Monday, February 9, 2009

Harare - It is estimated that a large percentage of the more than 3 000 people who have died of cholera in Zimbabwe had been living with disabilities.

National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped spokesperson, Lovemore Rambiyawo said that although there were no statistics on the number of people living with disabilities who have died from the epidemic, they were prone to live in environments where the cholera bacteria thrived.

"Some of them cannot even boil water, filter it or put chlorine in water to kill the bacteria," he said, adding that the blind were not able to read prevention methods since they were not written in Braile.

He said health officials could be more effective if they understood sign language for the benefit of people with hearing impairment.

Mr Rambiyawo said there was need for proper disposal and treatment of germ-infected waste that cholera victims produced.

"Immobile people cannot sterilise all materials that come in contact with cholera patients," he noted.

He urged society, the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to include people with disabilities in prevention programmes.

Zimbabwe has been battling to contain the cholera epidemic which began in August last year.

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