Zim cholera death toll rises to 3 300

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Harare - The death toll from cholera in Zimbabwe has reached 3 300, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Custodia Mandlhate.

A total of 65 700 cases have been reported so far since the first outbreak of the disease in August last year.

Ms Mandlhate said there were fears that about 32 000 new cases would be recorded in the near future if little was done to control the disease.

"As of Tuesday, a total of 65 700 cases of cholera had been reported. About 3 300 people have died since August last year."

She said the war against cholera had not yet been won, adding there was a need for all stakeholders to intensify efforts to curb the spread of the deadly pandemic.

Cholera can spread to other areas faster during the rainy season, and with the current rains, more cases could be recorded if little was done to control the outbreak.

"Another worrying development is that the outbreaks have shifted from urban areas to rural areas," said Ms Mandlhate, who urged the government and other stakeholders to co-operate in providing clean water and sanitation services to rural areas.

She said the war against cholera had been compounded by a lack of water treatment chemicals, medicines, drugs and other resources. The brain drain in Zimbabwe's health sector had also crippled the campaign, she added.

The current cholera outbreak has been the worst ever pandemic to hit the country in recent years and comes after the collapse of the country's infrastructure. The disease has also spread to South Africa.