Cholera crisis could last months

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's cholera crisis has taken an unprecedented scale and could last for months, the Doctors Without Borders group said Friday.

"The scale and the sheer numbers of infections especially in Harare is
unprecedented," said the organisation known by its French initials MSF.
"Harare has been the centre of the outbreak. MSF has treated more than
6 000 people in the densely populated capital," the group said in a
statement. "A cholera outbreak of this proportion usually continues for
several months," it said. "MSF expects to be caring for cholera
patients in Zimbabwe for some time to come." Lack of access to clean
water, burst and blocked sewers and uncollected garbage overflowing in
the streets has spread the water-borne disease across the country. "The
fact that the outbreak has become so large is an indication that the
country’s health system can’t cope," said MSF. Cholera is endemic in
parts of rural Zimbabwe, but had been rare in the cities, where most
homes have piped water and flush toilets. Those basic services have now
broken down, and in some neighbourhoods sewage flows in the streets. On
Friday, the World Health Organisation said the death toll had climbed
to 792, with 16 700 cases reported. One day earlier, President Robert
Mugabe stunned the world by announcing that the epidemic was over. His
spokesperson backtracked on the remarks after the comments sparked
international outrage.

News24 (SA)

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