Where: Harare, Zimbabwe
January 23, 2009 : A report that the World Health Organisation made in early January said 2,200 people had died from cholera in Zimbabwe since August 2008. One week later, the United Nations reported a 20 per cent rise in cholera cases, and the figure now stands at 2,755. Nearly 50,000 people have been infected with the disease. The humanitarian aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres said that the epidemic was now spreading to rural areas.
President Robert Mugabe faces severe criticism for his government’s failure to control the crisis. Zimbabwe’s health, water and sanitation systems appear to have collapsed completely. In addition, there is a serious economic crisis. The Zimbabwean dollar is almost worthless. Doctors and nurses are refusing to work because they have not been paid.
People are unable to get transport to go to clinics for treatment. Cholera is easy to prevent, and is easily treated. However, the lack of awareness, and the practice of taking the bodies of victims back to their homes, has helped spread the infection from urban to rural areas. The present rainy season is likely to lead to more infections. Cholera has also spread to neighbouring South Africa.