UNICEF Zimbabwe Cholera Outbreak Response Situation Report No. 3: 01-16 February 2024

Highlights As of 14 February 2024, a total of 24, 525 cholera cases and 528 deaths, CFR 2.2% have been reported from 61 districts across all 10 provinces.

  • Of the cumulative cases, approximately 31 per cent are children aged below 15 years, and 14 percent are children aged below 5 years of age.
  • The country has received 97 per cent of the ICG approved 2.3 million OCV doses by 12 February 2024. The balance is expected to arrive on 17 February 2024.
  • As of 14 February 2024, a total of 1,536,741 people (67 per cent of the target population) have received a OCV vaccine dose.
  • UNICEF and partners have reached 265,826 people including 122,280 children with critical hygiene supplies.
  • An estimated 5,5 million people have been reached with risk communication and community engagement activities.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

As of 14 February 2024, a total of 24,525 cholera cases, and 528 deaths with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.2 per cent have been reported from 61 districts across the 10 provinces in the country. Of the cumulative cholera cases reported, 31 per cent are children aged below 15years and 14 per cent are children aged below 5 years of age.

Cholera cases have declined in most provinces from epi-week 2, 2024 to epi-week 6, 2024, except for Mashonaland Central Province that reported an increase in cholera cases. Majority of cholera cases were reported from Harare and Mashonaland Central Provinces. The number of daily cholera cases admitted in CTCs/CTUs across the country has not changed from an average of 241 cholera cases between 29 January 2024 to 11 February 2024.

Despite reporting a decline in cases in the previous 5 epi-weeks, Mazowe district contributed the highest number of cases in Mashonaland Central province. Centenary and Mbire districts bordering Mozambique cholera affected communities undertake farming activities in Mozambique during the day and return to Zimbabwe at the end of the day, posing a risk for cross border transmission.

Children, women of childbearing age, religious decliners, illegal miners, and famers in rural settings continue being high-risk groups with fifty one percent (51 per cent) of the cumulative cholera cases being women while 14 per cent are children under 5 years of age.

Key factors driving cholera transmission include the continued low access to safe water, inappropriate sanitation and infection, prevention, and control (IPC), health system challenges (staff attrition, capacity, access, and quality issues), unsafe burial practices, wanning immunity from last oral cholera vaccine (OCV) campaign in 2019, multiple disease outbreaks (polio, measles), and limited funding among UN agencies and partners to scale up response.

Subregional population movements and large gatherings for economic, cultural, and religious reasons amidst ongoing cholera outbreaks across neighbouring countries (Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique) present continued risks for cross-border transmission.

While the rains have increased the risk of flood and water contamination due to sewer runoff and seepage, the forecasted El Nino-induced drought will cause further water scarcity with household resulting to unsafe water sources and water rationing for sanitation, complicating the situation.

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