The Zimbabwe Government finally reached out for some help.
China has pledged vaccines worth $500 000 to fight cholera in Zimbabwe, the country’s Herald newspaper reported today.
China’s deputy head of mission in Zimbabwe He Meng said his government would bring the vaccines as soon as talks with the ministry of foreign affairs had been concluded.
“We are sympathising with the Zimbabwean people and we want to help as best as we can to stop the spread of the cholera disease that has killed many people in this country,” he was quoted as saying.
China would also give Zimbabwe food to help ease shortages.
World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Custodia Mandlhate said containing the outbreaks with the prevailing poor water supply and sanitation was difficult.
The WHO – a United Nations agency – was helping the government co-ordinate partner contribution, support case investigation and manage and set up cholera treatment centres.
Cholera kits worth more than $900 000 were handed to the ministry of health and child welfare before the outbreak as strategic stocks.
Mandlhate said the WHO would procure different items valued at $400 000 to replace the stocks that were running out.
The latest report from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs indicated that so far 366 people had died of cholera in Zimbabwe, 108 of them in Harare.
A further 8,887 cases were attended to countrywide, with Harare topping the list with 4,697 cases.
Cholera cases in South Africa and Botswana had also been reported.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president, Chief Fortune Charumbira, has called on the government to embark on “spirited” cholera awareness campaigns in the rural areas.
He said most rural people remained vulnerable to the disease because of lack of knowledge, the Herald reported.
I did note that on just about every story I read the number of those who have died has varied from one to another. Seems the truth on that may never be known for sure.
The number of those infected also varied from one to another.
There are about 9,000 people infected give or take a few hundred one way or the other.
Those number can grow rapidly and those who are infected can die quickly if not treated.
The bacteria Vibrio cholerae is excreted by an infected person in the stools and vomit. It can then be spread directly to other people if they touch the patient and then fail to wash their hands before eating. The germ can also contaminate food or water supplies. In the latter case this will cause an explosive outbreak because many people will ingest the vibrion in a short period of time.
Once inside the intestine, the organism multiplies and produces a toxin. This toxin causes the cells lining the intestine to secrete massive volumes of fluid and leads to diarrhea and vomiting. A patient under treatment can lose more than 50 liters of fluid during a bout of cholera.
A person who is not treated will die of dehydration well before this. In fact, death usually occurs when 10 to 15 per cent of the total body weight is lost. In severe cases this may take only a couple of hours. From Doctors Without Borders
SOUTH AFRICA, China and the United Nations and concerned Non-Governmental Organisations sympathetic to the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe are at the forefront of fighting cholera.
Yesterday the South African Limpopo Health Services Department — in partnership with Gift of the Givers Foundation, a non-governmental organisation — yesterday donated equipment worth R1,2 million to Beitbridge District Hospital for use in combating the cholera outbreak.
Gift of Givers Foundation is an independent African NGO established in August 1992. Since it was founded the NGO has delivered 200 Million Rand of aid in a 14 year period to 23 countries, and millions of people have benefited.It currently operates in over 15 countries including Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.
The NGO is involved in disaster relief, primary health care clinics, feeding schemes, water purification and waterwell provision, distribution of new blankets, new clothing and food parcels, bursaries, educational support, toy story, agricultural self help schemes, job creation, counselling services, a drug rehab, HIV/AIDS workshops, skills development and life altering workshops.
The equipment donated to Zimbabwe by Gift of the Givers Foundation spokesperson Mr Allauddin Sayed comprised 25 water tanks (each with a capacity of 10 000 litres), water treatment tablets, a generator and a consignment of medical and food supplies.
“We had to come in with this kind of assistance following appeals by the South African government on the problems faced by our brothers in Zimbabwe dealing with the cholera outbreak,” said Sayed.
“As an organisation, we are passionate about Africa, especially Zimbabwe being our neighbours and therefore we will continue to assist in whatever way so that we complement the efforts being made by their Government,” he added.
South Africa’s Department of Health and Social Development is also heavily involved in the fight against cholera in Zimbabwe after concerns raised during Sunday’s stakeholders meeting involving health officials from Zimbabwe and South Africa in Beitbridge.
The department will assist the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) in water purification and sewer treatment. Te two authorities say they will target water supply and sewer reticulation, particularly where effluent is flowing into the Limpopo River, which is the main source of water for both Beitbridge and Musina residents.
South Africa entered into an agreement with the Musina Municipality to help in transporting adequate clean water to Beitbridge.
Once the water treatment starts functioning properly, the water tanks would be connected to the Zinwa purification plant through the main pipeline.
This week the United Nations launched the consolidated appeal for 2009 for a total of $550 million, the highest appeal ever for Zimbabwe. Last year’s appeal was under $400 million and according to the U.N. had been “very well subscribed”, and was, at this point, 75 per cent funded.
Together with South Africa, the United Nations is part of a task force within Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health set up to coordinate the response to the cholera situation.
The U.N. World Food Program appealed in October for $140 million to help 4 million Zimbabweans. The agency said earlier this month that international donors had not responded, forcing it to start rationing cereal and beans. It warned that food aid will run out by January unless it gets new funds.
So far only China and South Africa have made pledges for food aid beyond 2008.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged all donors to disregard their political views on Zimbabwe and provide money for critically needed food and to help battle the cholera outbreak.
U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said on Tuesday “The secretary-general urges all parties (NGOs) to support and provide humanitarian assistance leaving political considerations aside.”
Food aid and humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe has been heavily politicized.
The Zimbabwean government in June this year temporarily banned all NGOs from carrying out relief work in the country accusing them of helping the opposition MDC to carry out political activities in remote areas.
The ban was lifted a month later. Very few NGOs, many of whom were calling for the lifting of the ban, have resumed work in the country.
A government official told the Zimbabwe Guardian that many of these NGOs had not been forthcoming during the outbreak of cholera and quietly waited for the crisis to deepen.
“Many NGOs that were at the forefront of calling for a lifting of the ban have not been forthcoming. Their statements were not altruistic but were meant to discredit the Government of Zimbabwe,” said the official adding that “our true friends, China and South Africa have been at the forefront of fighting the cholera outbreak”.
While South Africa, China and the U.N. are helping Zimbabwe to battle the cholera outbreak, Botswana on Wednesday called for neighbouring countries to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe to drive President Robert Mugabe out of power.
Speaking on BBC’s HardTalk programme, Botswana’s foreign minister called on neighbouring African nations to bring down the government of President Mugabe.
Phando Skelemani said mediation has failed to remove President Mugabe and African nations should impose sanctions to force that removal.
“If no petrol went in for a week, he can’t last,” Skelemani said on Wednesday.
In less than a year Monrovia (Liberia), Conakry (Guinea), Bissau (Guinea Bissau), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Lusaka (Zambia) and now Luanda in Angola are dealing with cholera outbreaks.