Zimbabwe: WHO, partners work to control cholera outbreak
12 December 2008 -- A widespread cholera outbreak and inadequate access to safe drinking water and hygiene are threatening the wellbeing of thousands of Zimbabweans. Shortages of medicines, equipment and staff at health facilities throughout the country are compounding the health challenges.
The outbreak could surpass 60 000 cases, according to estimates by the Zimbabwe Health Cluster, which is a group coordinated by WHO and comprising health providers, NGOs and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
WHO is setting up a cholera control and command centre in conjunction with the ministry and other health partners. These photos provide a snapshot of their work in Zimbabwe.
As of 10 December, more than 16 000 suspected cases of cholera had been reported in nine of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces. Since August, nearly 800 deaths have been recorded in the country.
About half of cholera cases have been recorded in Budiriro, a heavily populated suburb on the western outskirts of the capital, Harare. Other major concentrations of cholera cases include Beitbridge on the South African border and Mudzi on the border with Mozambique.
A staff member of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) checks patients' intravenous (IV) fluid infusions at the Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Clinic in Harare. The clinic has established a cholera treatment centre.
WHO epidemiologist Dr Francesco Checci (second from left) and data analyst Jerome Chakauya (far right) check patient records at the Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Clinic in Harare.
Nurse Diki Dudzai checks the intravenous (IV) fluid infusion for a cholera patient at the Katanga Utano Cholera Treatment Centre in the district of Norton, about 40 kilometres from Harare. WHO delivered supplies of IV fluids and other materials to the clinic, which opened one day after the first cholera-related death in the town was reported.
Kimberley Chiwara, 7 months, is cared for by her mother, Precious Tafumani at the Katanga Utano Cholera Treatment Centre in Norton. Nurses have been treating Kimberley with IV fluids and she has been responding well.
WHO has sent medical supplies to treat 50 000 people for common conditions for three months and 3200 moderate cases of cholera. WHO has also sent epidemiologists, a water and sanitation expert and a logistician to Harare to strengthen response efforts on the ground.