The UN’s humanitarian coordination office, or OCHA, said in Geneva that a growing number of deaths were occurring outside care facilities in rural areas, with 87% of the country’s districts now affected by the disease. The new death toll is nearly 100 more than the 2,106 reported by the World Health Organization Wednesday, while the number of people affected is up from 40,448 to 41,986.
"We’ve noticed a growth in the death rate outside the health system, of people in their homes, especially in the countryside," OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told journalists.
"What we’re worried about is the 51% who are ‘community deaths’," she said.
"That proves that the results we were hoping for from the prevention campaigns and the distribution of medicines and supplies… are not being felt," she added.
The U.N. pointed to a "meltdown" in social and economic facilities in Zimbabwe, hit by political crisis and runaway inflation, that stopped the provision of clean water and proper hygiene, generating a cycle of "infection and re-infection", especially in rural areas.
Public health staff at government-run treatment centers were underpaid and in need of financial support to ensure continued treatment there, Byrs said.
Meanwhile, most of the working trucks left in the country are being snapped up for a massive food aid operation that is targeting 6 million people this month alone, leaving essential medical supplies by the wayside.
The OCHA said red tape was blocking the import of more vehicles that were " desperately needed."
An added concern is the imminent flood cyclone season, which stands to worsen the impact of cholera, a waterborne disease. Zimababwe’s government this week put out flood warnings as rivers swelled, the U.N. said. – Dow Jones Newswires