May 26, 2024

Government and UNICEF step up fight against Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe

Clive Tatenda Makumbe in Zimbabwe

By February 2024, Zimbabwe will record 38,763 cases, if Government of Zimbabwe and Non-Governmental Organizations don’t step up the fight against cholera which was reported earlier this month by UNICEF Emergency Specialist for Zimbabwe, Rosewiter Mazivofa.

There are more and more cases of sickness in the provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, and Mashonaland East since the start of 2024. This is because more people were moving around during the holidays and because it was raining a lot. From September 2023 to week 3 of 2024, the number of people dying from cholera each week has been going down.

Rosewiter Mazivofa says: “Children, women who can have babies, people who don’t follow a religion, miners working illegally, and farmers in rural areas are still at high risk for getting cholera. Out of all the cholera cases, 52 percent are women and 14 percent are children under 5 years old.

The main reasons cholera spreads are because many people don’t have clean water, proper toilets, or ways to prevent and control infections. There are also problems with the health system, unsafe burial practices, and not enough money to deal with the outbreak. Other diseases like polio and measles also make it harder to control cholera.”

Already the rainy season started late in December 2023, and this led to more cases. Also, people moving between nearby areas and gathering in big groups for work, culture, and religion can spread cholera from one country to another (Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique).

The heavy rains might cause floods and dirty water, and the expected drought due to El Nino will make it hard to find clean water, leading to water rationing and making the situation worse.

More people have gotten cholera than in the previous outbreak in 2018/19. People are worried it could become as bad as the big outbreak in 2008/9.

If nothing is done to stop the spread of cholera, WHO and UNICEF predict that by February 2024, there will be around 38,763 cases, with 0.3% of the population getting sick. This is more common in cities and towns than in the countryside.

         

An upward trend in week-by-week cholera cases continues being seen from epi-week 50, 2023 to epi-week 3, 2024. Most cholera cases continue being reported from Harare, Masvingo, Manicaland and Chitungwiza Provinces contributing 84 per cent of the national case load.

UNICEF’s Response and Funding Status

Since the outbreak started, UNICEF and its partners have been helping the government of Zimbabwe provide different kinds of help to people who are affected or at risk. This includes things like coordinating and leading efforts, providing clean water and hygiene, managing cases, monitoring the situation, and communicating with the community. They also provide support for supplies, workers, and preventing violence and abuse, and work with other groups to help.

UNICEF is asking for $10. 5 million to help with the cholera outbreak. The money will help UNICEF give important help to 1. 6 million people, including 736,000 children, in the places where cholera is spreading in the country.

UNICEF in Zimbabwe got $5. 2 million from different donors to help with the cholera outbreak. This money will help with things like medicine and supplies. Some donors include the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Japan, and the UK for Development. They also got help from private companies for things like billboards and shipping. The Country Office got money from UNICEF to help them provide more help in emergencies.