New health measures in place to fight cholera resurgence in Zimbabwe
Cholera, an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingesting bacteria-contaminated food or water, is on the rise again on the continent, according to the World Health Organization. Cholera outbreaks have recently swept across southern Africa, with Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique all reporting cases. Malawi’s outbreak, the worst in decades, killed over 1,000 people in late 2022 and early 2023.
Zimbabwe, where access to clean water is a struggle, is no stranger to cholera outbreaks. On Wednesday, October 4, the Ministry of Health announced a death toll of 30 from cholera, confirmed by laboratory tests. The ministry also reported 905 confirmed cases and 4,609 suspected cases.
The country’s urban areas, which have been mired in a debilitating economic crisis for the past two decades, have crumbling health infrastructures and depleted water supply systems, making them all the more vulnerable to regular outbreaks of cholera.
The increase in cholera related deaths and infections has prompted the government to impose restrictions to stop the spread of the disease, including limiting numbers at funerals and stopping some social gatherings in affected areas. In a notice widely shared on social networks, the Harare municipality advised against shaking hands, eating at public gatherings, and buying food from informal vendors.
Nearly 340 kilometers from the capital, in the Zaka district, local authorities have banned public gatherings, which are now subject to authorization by the Ministry of Health.
In 2008, Zimbabwe was devastated by a cholera epidemic with over 4,000 fatalities and 100,000 people infected. Compounded by an already failing economy, the public hospitals were unable to adequately respond to the crisis due to severe drug shortages.