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Cholera and Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera declining, but UN health agency urges continued vigilance vital

eTN Staff Writer  Mar 25, 2009

While noting an overall downward trend in the number of cholera cases and deaths in Zimbabwe over the last two months, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) urged continued vigilance, citing the very real risk of the outbreak restarting in some areas.

According to an update issued Monday by the agency, some 2,076 cases were reported in the week ending March 14, which, although still high, is down from 3,812 cases in the week prior and over 8,000 cases per week at the beginning of February.

In addition, the weekly Case Fatality Rate has decreased from its peak of near 6 percent in January and stood at 2.3 percent for the week ending March 14.

“While data collection and verification remain a challenge throughout the country with the effect that weekly statistics are not always accurate or complete, the overall trend over the last two months is of a decreasing number of cases and deaths,” WHO said.

As of March 17, 91,164 cases of the water-borne disease have been reported with 4,037 deaths since the country’s worst-ever outbreak began in last August.

WHO states that while cases have decreased in all provinces, they are increasing again in and around the capital, Harare.

“The risk of the outbreak restarting in those areas of the country is real,” notes the agency. “The need to remain vigilant and to continue and reinforce the control measures already in place is paramount.”

WHO and its Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) partners have a sizeable team working out of the national Cholera Command and Control Centre in Harare.

Their efforts, along with partner UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have been vital in tackling the outbreak in the Southern African nation, which has a dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure and a weak health system.

Source: United Nations

Zimbabwe’s cholera declining, but UN health agency urges continued vigilance vital
Photo by Nelson Alcantara

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