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Zimbabwe reports 80 new cholera cases, five deaths

Zimbabwe is currently grappling with a cholera outbreak that has raised serious concerns across the nation.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care reported on Tuesday that there are now 80 new suspected cholera cases and five suspected deaths, adding to a growing tally of 5,123 suspected cases since the outbreak began in February 2023.

This cholera outbreak has proven to be particularly troubling for the country, with 965 cases having been confirmed so far, along with 32 confirmed deaths and an additional 112 suspected deaths. However, there is a ray of hope, as 4,901 individuals have successfully recovered from the disease.

As of October 17, 2023, 78 individuals were hospitalized at various cholera treatment centers across the country. These centers included facilities in Masvingo Province, Manicaland Province, Harare Province, and Bulawayo City. The government, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, has responded by deploying more medical professionals, drilling boreholes, conducting tests, and reporting an impressive 97% recovery rate.

The government has also imposed several measures to curb the spread of the disease, such as banning large gatherings in affected areas, increasing surveillance at ports of entry, and intensifying public health education.

One of the hardest-hit districts is Buhera, which has seen 726 suspected cases and 27 recorded deaths. The key factors contributing to the outbreak in Buhera are the lack of access to safe drinking water and the use of contaminated river water.

In a response to the crisis, Cabinet recently approved several significant measures. Doctors will be dispatched to visit all cholera treatment centers in Buhera District, while additional staff will be mobilized to support these centers. Cholera treatment camps and oral rehydration points will be set up closer to the community, and eight boreholes will be drilled in the district to provide safer water sources. Community engagement and capacity-building for traditional and religious leaders regarding public health measures to control cholera will be intensified. Furthermore, all funerals in Buhera District will be supervised, and cholera education will be amplified in schools.

To proactively prevent an increase in cholera cases nationwide, Cabinet has also approved intensified risk communication and community engagement efforts, sourcing cholera test kits for rural community centers, fully equipping all boreholes, documenting all deaths, supervising burials, and continuing to implement enhanced public health measures to contain the outbreak.

The cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe remains a significant public health concern, with the government and various stakeholders working diligently to control its spread and provide effective treatment and prevention measures. Cholera, a severe diarrheal infection caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water, can be life-threatening if left untreated. The World Health Organization strongly advocates for the use of oral rehydration therapy, antibiotics, and vaccination as preventive measures.